* Woodside Q3 output jumps 65 pct, revenue up 39 pct
* Woodside sees $974 mln profit on Browse stake sale
* Santos maintains 2012 output forecast
* Santos Q3 output up 6 pct, revenue up 15 pct
SYDNEY, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Australia’s top oil and gas company, Woodside Petroleum Ltd, raised its 2012 production target as much as 8 percent on Thursday thanks to stronger output than expected from its flagship A$14.9 billion Pluto gas project.
Rival Santos, Australia’s no.2 oil and gas producer, maintained its output forecast but cut its capital spending guidance by 7 percent to $3.5 billion, partly due to changes in the timing of some work on its $18.5 billion Gladstone liquefied natural gas project.
Woodside posted a 65 percent rise in third-quarter production to 26.5 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe), which drove third-quarter revenue up 39 percent to $1.8 billion.
The company’s cash hoard is building with Pluto up and running and following its recent sale of a stake in the Browse LNG project to Japan’s Mitsui & Co and Mitsubishi Corp for $2 billion, on which it said it expects to book a profit of $974 million.
“With strong cash flows and the completion of the $2 billion sale of a minority portion of Woodside’s interest in the proposed Browse LNG development, Woodside’s balance sheet continues to strengthen,” Chief Executive Peter Coleman said in a statement.
The company increased its full year production guidance to 83 to 86 mmboe, up from the 77 to 83 mmboe it forecast in its June quarterly report.
Santos reported a 6 percent rise in third-quarter production to 13.5 million mmboe, and booked a 15 percent rise in sales revenue to a record A$851 million, driven partly by higher gas prices.
It reaffirmed it expects to produce 51 to 55 mmboe this year and said its Gladstone LNG project remains on track to start producing in 2015.
Woodside shares rose 3.6 percent in early trade to A$35.63, while Santos added 1.4 percent to A$11.96, both outpacing a 1 percent rise in the broader market.
Reporting by Sonali Paul and James Regan; Editing by Richard Pullin