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The Camisea gas project in Peru.
The Camisea gas project in Peru.

Holding as much as 15 trillion cubic feet of gas and 800 million barrels of liquids, Camisea is Peru's biggest hydrocarbon field and has created a fortune for two of Argentina's family dynasties.

It is also a world away from the Carnarvon and Browse basins.

But in the next couple of months, Woodside Petroleum will join the Rey and Poli families amid hopes they can discover another Camisea, and pipe any newfound gas 540km over the Andes to Peru's coast.

It is a lofty ambition and one Woodside is saying little about.

Woodside and the Rey-Poli families' Pluspetrol are targeting late this quarter for the start of a 720sqkm two-dimensional seismic shoot on Block 108 in the Ene Basin, 150km east of Camisea.

Woodside has 20 per cent of Block 108, having struck a farm-in in 2009. The background to the deal is unclear and the low-profile Pluspetrol, one of South America's most valuable private companies with operated production of 416,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, would not respond to questions from _WestBusiness _.

Although it pre-dates Peter Coleman's 2011 arrival as Woodside chief executive, the Pluspetrol farm-in fits with the Perth company's increasingly far-flung focus on unearthing hydrocarbon riches in basins not yet overrun by the industry's super majors.

In the process, Woodside has decided to team up with billionaires such as Delek Group's Yitzhak Tshuva, Irish mining veteran and one-time whiskey distiller John Teeling and the oil and gas subsidiary of South Korean steel giant Posco.

By the middle of this year, Woodside should also be a partner in the first of a two-well exploration campaign off the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, a program run by Spanish giant Repsol. Highlighting how tight-knit the oil and gas community is, Repsol was a partner in the Peru LNG project, the country's first, before selling out to Woodside's biggest shareholder and regular joint venture partner, Royal Dutch Shell, this week.

The long-awaited drilling of the Canarias-1 well in the Atlantic, to test a "large" prospect - which is all Woodside will say - has already attracted regular protests by environmental groups.

Woodside expects to spend up to $US500 million ($557 million) this year on its global exploration push, with about half devoted to drilling seven wells (five off WA and the two in the Atlantic) and one quarter on seismic work including in Peru and off South Korea and Burma.

Woodside's first substantial push into Burma, with Posco subsidiary Daewoo International, will kick-off within days when work starts on 1200sqkm of 3-D seismic. A seismic program off South Korea is due to start next quarter and first work off New Zealand - Woodside's latest exploration target - towards the end of this year.

Its exploration budget does not include any spending on the Leviathan gas field, where negotiations with operator Noble Energy and Mr Tshuva's Delek continue over the terms of Woodside acquiring a 30 per cent stake. Woodside expects the talks to conclude by June 30, and a confirmed a farm-in would trigger more spending on exploration.

Woodside has also remained tight-lipped on its farm-in of several blocks in the Porcupine Basin off Ireland's south-west.

The farm-in partners include Mr Teeling's Petrel Resources. Mr Teeling is well known in mining circles for his chairmanship of Kenmare Resources, which owns a big titanium project in Mozambique.

The Porcupine Basin is regarded as highly prospective frontier acreage, though the gloss came off last year when ExxonMobil said the hyped Dunquin North well, to test a prospect some analysts said could top 1.7 billion barrels of oil-equivalent, failed to live up to expectations.