WHILE it continues to look abroad for new opportunities, Woodside Petroleum chief executive Peter Coleman says its Australian assets are its “core and current focus.”
Speaking to analysts after the release of its first half profit results, Mr Coleman said the company was conducting analyses of the five seismic studies it had conducted in Australia to date.
“Further studies are planned across our portfolio during the second half of this year and through next year as we develop knowledge and understanding of our acreage,” he said.
“Browse continues to lead our development pipeline and remains on track for our front end engineering and design (FEED) entry decision in the second half of 2014 while other infill and tie-back projects are progressing to plan.”
Mr Coleman said that as Woodside looked at the various approvals needed for Browse, the FEED decision date was likely “moving out towards the back end of that window rather than the front end.”
However, this would not have any impact on a final investment decision which is due in the second half of 2015, he said.
The company’s international expansion remained firmly on the agenda – with Woodside having acquired acreage in the Atlantic margins, Sub-Saharan Africa and Australasia.
Mr Coleman said the company was pursuing oil projects with a low entry cost, aiming to work with existing players in order to benefit from their experience.
As Woodside’s fellow project operators turned their focus onto North America, more assets would become available, he said, adding that the market was entering “a more rational phase.”
“A number of places we’re getting into were actually non-operator which is unusual historically for Woodside because we have gone for operatorship,” he said, adding that the company was focusing on material assets.
“We think that just helps us manage the complexity of the business while being able to grow quite rapidly in the portfolio.”
Woodside announced a half-year profit after tax of US$1.105 billion, up 27 per cent on the same period in 2013.
Revenue was 24% higher to US$3.551 billion, due to the restart of production at the Vincent oilfield and the new Pluto pricing regime.
The company reaffirmed full year production guidance of 89 million to 94 million barrels of oil equivalent after achieving record production of 46.5 mmboe during the period.
The results came at the end of a tumultuous month for Woodside, which started August attempting to finalise the purchase of a further 9.5 per cent of its issued capital from Shell for US$2.68 billion.
This buy-back required the approval of 75% of Woodside’s shareholders, but in the end the proposal only won the support of the holders of 72% of company stock.
Mr Coleman said “about three or four” shareholders made up the vast majority of the no vote – between them holding about 16% of the company’s total issued stock.
“I am not sure we could have done much more,” he told media after a general shareholder meeting.
“If you look at the voting, we had 60% of the non-Shell shareholders voting, which is a huge turnout.”