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Woodside Petroleum year profit up 55 pct

Reuters UK

Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:27am GMT

PERTH, Feb 18 (Reuters) – Woodside Petroleum Ltd (WPL.AX), Australia’s second-largest oil and gas producer, missed forecasts with a 55 percent rise in 2008 underlying net profit and flagged it may need up to $1.7 billion in additional funding for 2009.

Woodside, 34 percent owned by Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L), said on Wednesday net profit before one-off items was A$1.832 billion in 2008, below expectations of A$1.99 billion based on an average forecast of 10 analysts polled by Reuters.

Reported net profit, which includes significant items, jumped 73 percent from a year ago to a record A$1.786 billion ($1.14 billion).

Woodside said stronger production and prices over the period was partially offset by higher production costs, increased royalties and excise as well as depreciation charges.

In the last quarter of 2008, profit was also dented by weakening commodity prices and exchange rate moves, Woodside said, adding it had booked foreign exchange losses of A$235 million due to a revaluation of its U.S. dollar net liabilities.

Shares in Woodside fell 2.8 percent to A$31.48 by 0027 GMT, in line with a decline in the the broader S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO.

Woodside, which is constructing the A$12 billion Pluto liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing plant in west Australia, said the the firm had undrawn debt facilities of $1.05 billion at the end of Dec and a gearing ratio of 29 percent.

Based on current oil prices and exchange rates, the firm said it expects its additional external funding requirement to be in the range of $1.0 billion-$1.7 billion in 2009.

Woodside said it was considering further debt facilities but did not provide further details.

Some analysts have in recent months speculated that Woodside may need to conduct an equity raising to raise funds, while Citigroup said in a December report that Woodside could also opt sell some of its assets.

The firm announced a final dividend of 55 Australian cents and added that it would continue to run its dividend reinvestment programme to help fund its current suite of growth programmes.

Woodside’s 2008 production rose 15 percent from a year ago to 81.3 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe). The firm in January forecast its 2009 output to be largely flat at between 81-86 million boe. ($1=1.566 Australian Dollar) (Reporting by Fayen Wong; Editing by James Thornhill)


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