Woodside Cuts Dividend As Lower Energy Prices Bite

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

Shares in Woodside Petroleum have slumped more than 6% on a slide in world oil prices and a slashing of its interim dividend in the wake of a weak June half-year profit.

The oil and gas giant cut interim dividend by nearly a third after reporting a sharp fall in half-year profit thanks to the impact of a cyclone, a maintenance shutdown at a key liquefied natural gas plant in Western Australia’s Pilbara region and weaker global oil and gas pricing.

The shares ended at $31.18, down 6.7% in yesterday’s wider market sell-off and sharp falls in global oil prices.

Woodside told investors on Thursday that net profit for the six months to June 30 had dropped 23% to $US419 million ($A620 million), which was short of analyst forecasts.

Dividend for the June half is 36 US cents, down from 53 US cents in the first half of 2018.

Production in the first half was 39.0 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMboe) and operating revenue was $US2.260 billion, down from the $US2.388 billion in the first half of 2018.

In a sign of the tougher times in oil and gas and falling prices, the company is looking to preserve cash outflow and improve retention — not only has the interim dividend been cut but the board reactivated the dividend reinvestment plan.

Woodside CEO Peter Coleman said in yesterday’s statement the company has laid the foundations for a strong second half of 2019 and is on track to achieve targeted annual production of approximately 100 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2020.

“During the half, we completed the first major turnaround at Pluto LNG since the start of operations in 2012. The planned turnaround will support continued safe, reliable and efficient production at Pluto LNG for many years into the future.

“The strong cash flow generated by Pluto LNG will contribute significantly to the delivery of Woodside’s vision for the Burrup Hub, which will unlock the future value of our world-class processing facilities in Karratha and the rest of our growth strategy across three-time horizons.

“Our other base businesses performed strongly in the first half, with the North West Shelf and Wheatstone recording solid production. At the NWS Project, several improvements have been implemented to increase the efficiency and production capacity of LNG Trains 4 and 5.

“Subsequent to the end of the period, we recommenced production from the Vincent wells and we expect first oil from the Greater Enfield reservoirs in August 2019. The delivery of the Greater Enfield Project, on schedule and under-budgeted cost, is a further demonstration of our capacity to execute our growth plans.

“First half net after-tax profit was lower compared to the corresponding period due to the impact of Tropical Cyclone Veronica, the planned maintenance at Pluto LNG, and the Ngujima-Yin floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) facility being offline for refurbishment in Singapore ahead of its restart at Greater Enfield.

“Significant progress has been achieved at our major developments in Western Australia and Senegal over the course of the first half.

“The Scarborough Joint Venture has awarded two contracts related to the construction of the export gas pipeline. Commercial negotiation of a tolling agreement for the processing of Scarborough gas at Pluto Train 2 has progressed, as has engineering design for the upstream and downstream developments, in support of our targeted final investment decision in 2020.

“A key focus for the half has been on progressing the conversion of the preliminary tolling agreement between the North West Shelf Project and the Browse Joint Venture to a binding gas processing agreement. The Browse Joint Venture approved the Browse to NWS Project basis of design in May and the venturers are aligned on being ready to commence the front-end engineering design phase by the end of 2019.

“In Senegal, major contracts have been awarded for the subsea and drilling work scopes and the FPSO facility which will have an oil processing capacity of up to 100,000 barrels per day. The joint venture is targeting FID on the SNE Field Development Phase 1 in the second half and is working on total project funding solutions, including pursuing project financing,” he said.

Glenn Dyer

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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