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February 20 2013, 10:42AM

Woodside's chief executive Peter Coleman said the 2012 result was underpinned by a 31 per cent increase in production and 30 per cent lift in sales revenue.

The start-up of the Pluto liquefied natural gas (LNG) project last April and higher contributions from the Vincent and North West Shelf oil facilities also helped improve earnings.

"The safe start-up of Pluto marks 2012 as a milestone year for Woodside and cements our position as Australia's leading LNG operator," Mr Coleman said.

Mr Coleman said Pluto LNG performed at better-than-expected rates due to high reliability in the production ramp-up phase.

Between its start-up last April and the end of calendar 2012, Pluto LNG produced 2.7 million tonnes of LNG and 2.1 million barrels of condensate.

Woodside's investment expenditure fell 53 per cent in 2012 to $US1.8 billion ($A1.75 billion), largely driven by lower expenditure at Pluto.

The group lifted its investment expenditure forecast for 2013 to $US2.6 billion ($A2.52 billion) in 2013 due to anticipated additional costs associated with the Leviathan and Myanmar projects.

The expected investment expenditure amount is made up of $US2.1 billion ($A2.04 billion) capital plus $US500 million ($A485.34 million) of exploration expenditure.

"This estimate does not yet include forecast project expenditure that would result from a final investment decision for the proposed Browse LNG development," Woodside said.

Elsewhere, Woodside said it paid $US17 million ($A16.50 million) towards the federal government's carbon tax.

Woodside's shares were 23.5 cents higher at $38.145 at 1037 AEDT.