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AFX News Limited: Australia’s Woodside 2006 net profit up 29 pct at record 1.4 bln aud –

UPDATE
02.20.07, 9:51 PM ET

SYDNEY (XFN-ASIA) – Woodside Petroleum Ltd said its year to December 2006 net profit rose 29 pct year-on-year to a record 1.42 bln aud as it benefited from higher oil and gas prices and increased production.

Woodside, 34 pct-owned by the Royal Dutch Shell (nyse: RDSA – news – people ) Group, said net profit before one-off items rose 34.5 pct to 1.39 bln aud, beating analysts consensus estimate for 1.36 bln aud.

In afternoon trade, Woodside shares were up 0.59 aud or 1.59 pct at 37.76.

The group said total production rose 13.8 pct from a year earlier to a record 67.9 mln barrels of oil equivalent (boe), while its average realized oil price rose 17.2 pct to 85.43 aud a barrel from 72.88 aud in 2005.

Annual revenue rose 38.7 pct from a year earlier to a record 3.81 bln aud.

Woodside said it is now targeting a 6-15 pct rise in production to 72-78 mln boe in 2007, down from January’s estimate of 75-80 mln, due to the sale of Legendre assets in Australia and delays at its Otway gas and Neptune oil projects.

During 2007 new production is scheduled to come onstream at the Neptune project in the Gulf of Mexico, the Perseus-over-Goodwyn project in Western Australia and the Otway gas project in southern Australia.

Woodside is aiming to double its annual output to 120 mln boe by 2008.

The company said it expects to make a final investment decision on its Pluto liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in northwest Australia by mid year.

It said it also will further appraise the Browse LNG fields off northern Australia through additional drilling and seismic data.

As well, Woodside expects to make progress on its proposed OceanWay project, aimed at delivering LNG into the Californian market.

The group said yesterday’s vote by the parliament of Timor-Leste in favor of ratifying an international unitization agreement and the treaty for Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea has provided greater legal and regulatory certainty for the development of its partly-owned Greater Sunrise gas fields.

‘In order to progress Sunrise, we now need to focus on reaching agreement on the optimal development concept, marketing of the resource and conclusion of fiscal certainty arrangements,’ Woodside said.

Woodside has a 33.4 pct stake in the Greater Sunrise fields, ConocoPhillips (nyse: COP – news – people ) has 30 pct and Royal Dutch/Shell 25.56 pct, with the balance held by Osaka Gas.

For 2006, Woodside shareholders will receive a final dividend of 0.77 aud, up from the year ago 0.58. It takes the total annual dividend for 2006 to 1.26 aud from the 0.93 aud in 2005.

(1 usd = 1.27 aud)

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