Woodside First-Half Profit Jumps 49% on Higher Prices

By Robb M. Stewart Features Dow Jones Newswires

MELBOURNE, Australia--Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL.AU) logged a 49% rise in first-half earnings, lifted by a recovery in oil and liquefied natural gas prices on a year ago and as the oil-and-gas producer continued to chip away at costs.

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Net profit was US$507 million in the six months through June, after sliding in line with crude-oil prices a year ago to US$340 million.

With the rise, the Perth-based energy company plans to pay an interim dividend of US$0.49 a share, a 44% increase on last year.

Late last month, the company reported a 3.6% dip in half-year operating revenue to US$1.87 billion from US$1.94 billion, as sales volumes fell by a little over 9% on-year. However, the average price it realized for its products was 10% higher for the period.

Woodside has tipped a modest slide in production this year before it climbs about 15% through 2020, driven by the start-up of the US$34 billion Wheatstone LNG project being developed by Chevron Corp. (CVX) and its own Greater Enfield oil project. The company also is positioning to boost its LNG capacity in the coming years, increasing output at its Pluto LNG plant in Australia's west and potentially using its facilities as a hub for undeveloped gas fields in the region.

Woodside's earnings were almost wiped out in 2015 by hefty impairments and the plunge in oil prices from over US$100 a barrel in the summer of 2014 to less than US$30. Brent, the global benchmark, is now hovering above US$50.

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The company derives most of its earnings from LNG through output from the North West Shelf project, which has been operating since 1984, and the Pluto LNG plant that began producing in 2012. Much of the output is secured by long-term supply contracts, which tend to be priced against oil.

Write to Robb M. Stewart at robb.stewart@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 15, 2017 19:02 ET (23:02 GMT)