FINANCIAL TIMES: Woodside hits record profit despite fall in output: “As Australia's last sizeable domestic oil company, Woodside made headlines in 2001 when it became the target of a proposed takeover by Royal Dutch/Shell. But the Australian government rejected the bid by the Anglo-Dutch oil major, which still holds 34 per cent of Woodside, on national interest grounds.” (ShellNews.net) 17 Feb 05
By Joe Leahy in Sydney
Published: February 17 2005
Woodside Petroleum, Australia's largest independent oil and gas producer, yesterday announced that net profit hit a record last year on higher oil prices and asset sales.
The near doubling of the company's profit to A$1.08bn (US$847m), however, masked a 7.4 per cent fall in total production volume. It was also short of a Reuters analyst survey predicting a net profit of A$1.1bn.
Concern over the results and news that one of Woodside's projects, the North West Shelf, had failed to secure a liquefied natural gas supply contract with South Korea, led to a 0.64 per cent drop in the company's shares to A$21.58 yesterday.
As Australia's last sizeable domestic oil company, Woodside made headlines in 2001 when it became the target of a proposed takeover by Royal Dutch/Shell. But the Australian government rejected the bid by the Anglo-Dutch oil major, which still holds 34 per cent of Woodside, on national interest grounds.
Woodside said yesterday that net profit was supported by the sale of 40 per cent equity in its Enfield oil project off the coast of Western Australia for US$464.5m to Japan's Mitsui.
The result was also boosted by a profit of A$73.5m on the sale of equity in the North West Shelf venture to China's offshore oil and gas company, CNOOC.
Underlying net profit after tax was A$650.9m, up 23.6 per cent compared with a year earlier, largely due to price rises.
Total production last year would have fallen only 2.7 per cent but for the closure of a hot briquetted iron plant owned by mining group BHP Billiton, Woodside said.
Woodside said production volume this year would remain steady at last year's levels of about 56m barrels of oil equivalent.
In an attempt to boost growth, the company was planning to consider five to seven projects for final development this year and to pursue an exploration programme of 23 wells in Australia, Africa and the Gulf of Mexico.
The plan follows the appointment of Don Voelte as the Australian group's chief executive last year. Mr Voelte, formerly head of exploration at Mobil, is expected to push ahead with the company's overseas expansion.