Woodside Laments Oil Collapse With Huge Half-Year Loss

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

As expected Woodside Petroleum reported a massive half-year loss, thanks to the billions of dollars of impairments announced earlier this year and the impact of the collapse in oil and LNG prices.

But shareholders will still be rewarded with a small interim payout.

Woodside said its half-year result was $US4.067 billion ($A5.7 billion) and stripping the write-downs, the company’s underlying net profit for the six months to June 30 fell 28% to $US303 million, down 27% from $US419 million in the first six months of last year.

Despite that slide and the uncertain outlook, Woodside has decided to pay an interim dividend to shareholders.

Woodside said that underlying interim profit was $303 million, prompting it to issue a dividend to shareholders of 26 US cents a share, down from 36 cents a share a year ago.

Woodside said it had achieved its highest first-half production levels, producing 55.1 million barrels of oil or equivalent (mmboe) and an operating revenue of $US1.90 billion ($A2.6 billion), down from $US2.26 billion in the first half of 2019.

It said it is on track to meet its 2020 production forecasts, but underlying earnings will fall short of 2019’s level.

The company slashed up to $6 billion from the value of its assets last month due to the severity of the pandemic’s impact demand for crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG).

“I would rate the external conditions created this year by the COVID-19 pandemic and oversupply in global oil and gas markets as the most difficult I’ve seen in nearly four decades in the industry,” Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman said in Thursday’s earnings release.

Due to uncertainty (because of the impact of the pandemic on demand and economic growth), Woodside has delayed making final investment decisions on two highly-anticipated growth projects, including the $A17 billion Scarborough until 2021 and the $A30 billion Browse until 2023.

Oil prices fell as much as 80% in April and May (and briefly went negative) and the LNG spot prices have been at historical lows prompting production cuts in some fields in WA and elsewhere.

Woodside shares were up 0.9% at $20.40.

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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