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AFX Europe (Focus): Australia's Woodside Petroleum year to Dec profit beats forecasts

Feb 15, 2006
SYDNEY (AFX) – Australia's largest oil and gas company, Woodside Petroleum Ltd, said its net profit for the 2005 year fell marginally to 1.107 bln aud from 1.146 bln in 2004, when earnings were inflated by assets sales.
But before one-off items Woodside, which is 34-pct owned by Royal Dutch Shell, reported a higher-than-expected 54.5 pct rise in annual profit, benefiting from higher production and strong oil and gas prices.
Woodside, operator of the North West Shelf liquefied natural gas (LNG) project off Western Australia, said net profit before one-offs rose to 1.038 bln aud from 671.8 mln a year earlier.
The result was ahead of a market consensus forecast of a 964 mln aud net profit and followed annual revenue rising 29.3 pct to 2.748 bln.
Woodside said improved volumes from existing offshore oil and gas fields as well as the new Mutineer-Exeter oil field off the Western Australian coast and acquisitions in the Gulf of Mexico boosted output 4.0 pct to 59.7 mln barrels of oil equivalent (boe) during 2005.
It forecast a 27 pct rise in 2006 output to 76 mln boe, reflecting production from new fields, including Chinguetti, off the coast of Mauritania.
The North West Shelf project will supply its first LNG to Guangdong in China.
The company said it remains in discussion with the Mauritanian Government about disputed amendments to production-sharing contracts although Chinguetti is not affected.
The latest year's net profit included significant items of 69.7 mln aud from asset sales while the 2004 was boosted by significant items totalling 474.6 mln aud, mainly due to the sale of a 40 pct interest in the previously owned Enfield oil field off the West Australian coast to Japan's Mitsui.
Shareholders will receive final 0.58 aud dividend, taking the total annual dividend to 0.93 aud, up from 0.59 aud paid for the 2004 year.
(1 usd = 1.35 aud)
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