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Woodside Q4 output up 28 pct, sees higher profit

Reuters UK

Wed Jan 21, 2009 11:54pm GMT
PERTH, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Woodside Petroleum Ltd (WPL.AX), Australia’s largest independent oil and gas producer, reported a 28 percent rise in fourth-quarter output and said its full-year profit would be higher than a year ago, but still below analysts’ expectations.

Woodside, 34 percent owned by Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), said reported net profit in 2008 would be between A$1.75 billion ($1.1 billion) and A$1.8 billion, about 70-75 percent higher than the previous year.

But foreign exchange losses due to the revaluation of U.S. dollar liabilities and an impairment charge on U.S. assets were expected to cut its underlying after-tax profit in the second half of 2008 by about A$260 million, it said in a statement.

Woodside’s full-year guidance still falls short of analysts’ forecasts for a reported net profit of A$2.25 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.

“The financial results were impacted by weakening commodity prices and exchange rate movements in the last six months of 2008,” Woodside said in a statement.

Woodside added that reported profit was expected to be reduced by various significant items, such as a writedown charge for the now suspended OceanWay gas development in California, which could amount to around A$50 million after tax.

Total production in the quarter ended Dec. 31 was 23.1 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe), compared with 18 million boe produced in the same period last year, Woodside said in a statement.

Fourth-quarter output was boosted by the commissioning of a fifth liquefied natural gas train at the Woodside-operated North West Shelf project off western Australian last September, bringing production for the full year to 81.3 million boe, in line with its earlier guidance and up 15 percent from a year ago.

Woodside also said it has reached agreements to enter into new debt facilities for $800 million.

Shares in Woodside were down 1.3 percent at A$33.96 by 2349 GMT, compared with a 0.4 percent fall in the broader S&P/ASX 200 Energy index .AXEJ. ($1=1.535 Australian Dollar) (Reporting by Fayen Wong; Editing by James Thornhill)


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