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Woodside Petroleum has reported a six per cent increase in first-half net profit and raised its 2018 production outlook after strong performances from its Wheatstone and Pluto LNG projects.

Australia’s biggest listed oil and gas explorer reported net profit of $US541 million in the six months ended June 30, compared with $US507 million a year ago, as it benefited from larger volumes.

Revenue was up 27 per cent from a year ago, at $2.39 billion.

Production was spurred by a ramp up at the Wheatstone liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Western Australia. The plant’s second production unit started up in mid-June and is ramping up as planned, it said.

Wheatstone, run by Chevron, is expected to contribute more than 13 million barrels of oil equivalent to the company’s annual output once it is fully operational.

Woodside also said it expects to reach a preliminary tolling agreement between the North West Shelf Project participants and Browse joint venture in the third quarter of 2018.

Browse is seen as an important source of growth for Woodside but has been on the drawing board for years, as plans for onshore and floating LNG development estimated at $US30 billion to $US45 billion were scrapped.

Woodside now expects production for the 2018 fiscal year to rise to between 87 mmboe to 91 mmboe, up from the earlier estimate of 85 mmboe to 90 mmboe.

Production costs per barrel of oil equivalent across all operating assets for 2018 are expected to be between $US5.50 and $US5.80, the company said.

Despite what analysts called “a solid result”, shares in the company slipped in early trade. By 1140 AEST, Woodside shares were down 1.9 per cent to $35.60.

The oil and gas explorer announced an interim dividend of 53 US cents per share, up from 49 US cents a year ago.