Australian oil and gas exploration company Santos has announced third quarter production of 15 million barrels of oil equivalent, 10% lower than the previous corresponding period and 4% lower than the second quarter of 2007.

This primarily reflects lower Cooper Basin gas production due to natural field decline, lower oil production from the Mutineer-Exeter field due to equipment failure which is expected to be rectified during the fourth quarter and a planned 31-day shutdown of the Bayu-Undan field and associated processing facilities.

The 2007 full year outlook is for production of between 59 and 60 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe), which is within the previous guidance of 59 to 61 mmboe.

Total third quarter sales revenue of A$627.2 million was in line with the second quarter of 2007, although 17% below Q3 2006, due to lower third-party gas sales and the stronger Australian dollar/US dollar exchange rate, which resulted in a 5% decline in realized Australian dollar oil prices. The average realized gas price of A$3.91 was a record for the company, and represented an increase of 7% over the past year.

John Ellice-Flint, managing director of Santos, said: We are pleased that oil production from the Oyong field commenced in late September, with gross production of over 10,000 barrels per day achieved. At Mutineer-Exeter, we currently have a rig on site and anticipate that if successful the appraisal and workover program during this quarter will increase gross oil production rates by between 5,000 and 10,000 barrels per day.