PERTH, Australia, June 27 (UPI) -- Australian energy company Woodside Petroleum said it was in the position to move ahead with the development of a $1.9 billion offshore oil project.
Woodside Petroleum CEO Peter Coleman said Monday that "breakthroughs" in technology slated for the Greater Enfield projects off the coast of Western Australia made investing nearly $2 billion during the weak market for oil justifiable.
"Greater Enfield is a demonstration of our phased and sustainable approach to growth," he said in a statement.
Woodside said it's targeting a basin that holds up to 69 million barrels of oil equivalent, which will be developed using an offshore floating production, storage and offloading vessel.
Woodside, the largest independent oil and gas company in Australia, said that its financial position was damaged in part because of historically low crude oil prices. Net income of around $26 million last year was down roughly 90 percent from the $2.4 billion recorded in 2014.
Crude oil prices in the upper $40 range leaves energy companies with far less capital to invest in new developments than they had in 2014, when oil prices peaked above $100 per barrel. In March, even with some of the design and engineering work, Woodside said weak economic and market conditions meant it was necessary to put a hold on a $50 billion floating natural gas facility.
The company said the investment plan for Enfield came in at the low end of its expectations, which gave it an opportunity to develop "previously stranded resources."
Woodside expects first oil from Enfield by the middle of 2019.