BANGALORE/MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia’s Woodside Petroleum Ltd (WPL.AX) plans to book impairments of $4.37 billion (£3.48 billion) after tax, joining global energy majors that have slashed the value of their assets after a coronavirus-induced slump in oil and gas prices.
The bulk of the impairment - $3.92 billion - is tied to cutting the value of oil and gas production and exploration assets, amid “increased uncertainty” over the development timing of gas fields off Australia and in Canada, the company said.
Nearly 80% of the impairments on its oil and gas properties were driven by a weaker outlook for oil and gas prices to 2025, but it also factored in longer term demand uncertainty and an increased risk of higher carbon pricing.
However Woodside’s writedowns are bigger than expected, some analysts and investors said.
“Clearly in a lower oil price environment they’re certainly going to have to rejig a lot of projects,” said Andy Foster, a portfolio manager at Argo Investments.
Woodside Chief Executive Peter Coleman said the company still aims to develop its Scarborough and Browse gas fields off Western Australia, but would also eye acquisitions.
“Woodside’s disciplined approach to financial management gives us options to pursue inorganic growth opporutnities as and when they emerge,” he said in a statement.
Along with the writedowns, Woodside downgraded its estimated reserves, now counting its Greater Pluto gas fields as “contingent resources”.
Those gas fields were isolated in deep water, making them challenging to develop in a weak price environment, said David Low, an analyst at consultants Wood Mackenzie.
The company, Australia’s top independent gas producer, will take a $447 million provision for an onerous liquefied natural gas supply deal in Corpus Christi, Texas, where it has had to pay a fee for cargoes not taken. Several Asian and European buyers have cancelled cargoes from U.S. LNG plants.
Woodside will report its second-quarter production figures on Wednesday and first-half 2020 earnings on Aug. 13.
Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; editing by Christian Schmollinger and Louise Heavens