The Australian gas producer Woodside Energy Group Ltd increased its interim dividend payout by more than three times on Tuesday after reporting a five-fold boost in first-half earnings thanks to surging oil and gas prices and its acquisition of BHP Group's petroleum division.
As a result of sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, gas consumers in Asia and Europe have been compelled to look for alternative suppliers in an already competitive market, which has helped Woodside.
Platts JKM benchmark price assessment rocketed to $71 per million British thermal units. Meanwhile, Chief Executive Meg O'Neill told Reuters that the Dutch TTF gas hub price this week reached almost the equivalent of an oil price of $600 per barrel.
One of the world's biggest independent oil and gas producers today, Woodside paid an interim dividend of $1.09 per share, giving shareholders $2.1 billion, more than doubling the distribution from the previous year and above expert expectations.
According to Jamie Hannah, deputy head of investments at fund manager VanEck, "the dividend was greater than expected, and the majority of investors will be delighted that they've delivered on their dividend pledge."
After the outcome, Woodside's shares increased by as much as 3.8%, exceeding market gains.
For the six months ending June 30, Woodside reported an underlying net profit after tax of $1.82 billion, an increase from $354 million the previous year. According to Visible Alpha, the outcome exceeded analysts' predictions by about $1.49 billion.
The $5.6 billion Scarborough gas project, Woodside's largest growth project, where it has been trying to sell a stake on and off for more than 18 months, is now 100% owned by Woodside as a result of the merger with BHP's petroleum division.
O'Neill stated that the company was in discussions with "high quality" potential partners. Still, given the strength of the LNG market, he added that the company would only sell what he called "a critical asset for the future of Woodside."
But once more, O'Neill said on a conference call with analysts, "We're not going to fire sell this vital asset.
Although she declined to provide specifics, she told Reuters that the corporation sought to hold a majority interest.
To plan its next expansion project, which might involve new energy as well as Browse and Greater Sunrise gas off the northwest coast of Australia, she added, Woodside has started a strategic evaluation of all the assets in the expanded firm.