Woodside Petroleum

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Woodside Petroleum Limited
Traded as ASXWPL
Industry Oil and gas
Predecessor Woodside (Lakes Entrance) Oil Co NL
Founded 26 July 1954 (1954-07-26)
Headquarters Woodside Plaza
Perth, Western Australia
, Australia
Key people
Peter Coleman, CEO
Products Petroleum
Revenue Increase A$4.352 billion (2009)[1]
Profit Increase $1.824 billion A$ (2009)
Number of employees

Woodside Petroleum Limited is an Australian petroleum exploration and production company. Woodside is the largest operator of oil and gas production in Australia and also Australia’s largest independent dedicated oil and gas company.[2] It is a public company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and has its headquarters in Perth, Western Australia.


Woodside was incorporated on 26 July 1954. It was originally named Woodside (Lakes Entrance) Oil Co NL and it was named after the small town of Woodside, Victoria.[3] Woodside's early years were focussed on Victoria's Gippsland Basin. Switching to northern Western Australia in the early 1960s, Woodside joined up with Shell and Burmah Oil to form the original North West Shelf consortium. BHP later replaced Burmah, and with Shell, each became a 40% shareholder in Woodside. In the early 1990s both BHP and Shell agreed to sell down to 34% stakes each, before BHP sold out completely (for an average price of $3 per share, completing the sale in October 1994).

In 2001 Shell sought to buy out the remaining portion of the company that it did not already own at the time; however, the takeover move was blocked by the Treasurer of Australia at the time, Peter Costello, on national interest grounds.[4] On 9 November 2010, Shell sold approximately one-third of its 34% stake to institutional investors at a share price of A$42.23, reducing its overall stake in Woodside to 24%.[5] On 17 June 2014, Shell announced it would reduce its remaining 23.1% stake to 4.5% through a sale on the market to institutional investors, and a buy-back by Woodside, to which the company had agreed. The following day Shell sold 9.5% to institutions. An extraordinary meeting of Woodside shareholders to approve the buyback on 1 August 2014 however failed to achieve a majority 75% vote, falling short at 72%. Shell announced it was reviewing its options.[6]


On 30 May 2011 Peter Coleman succeeded Don Voelte as the company’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director. He came to Woodside with 27 years industry experience with the ExxonMobil group, where he filled a variety of roles in Australia, Africa, Asia and the United States. Mr Coleman’s most recent position before joining Woodside was Vice President of the ExxonMobil Development Company, with responsibility for oil and gas developments around the world. This included ExxonMobil’s Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas project, and oil and gas developments in Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia. Previous key roles with ExxonMobil included Vice President, Americas, responsible for leadership of all activities related to production in the United States, Canada and South America.[7]


Exploration and development activities are ongoing in Australia and a number of regions outside of Australia including the Gulf of Mexico. Within Australia Woodside operates or is developing a number of liquefied natural gas projects. The company also operates the Enfield and Vincent oil fields offshore from Exmouth in Western Australia and the Laminaria-Corallina oil field offshore northern Australia.[citation needed]

North West Shelf Project[edit]

Located 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) north of Perth, Western Australia and covering approximately 200 hectares, the Karratha Gas Plant includes five LNG processing trains, two domestic gas trains, six condensate stabilisation units, three LPG fractionation units as well as storage and loading facilities for LNG, LPG and condensate. One of the most advanced integrated systems in the world, the Karratha Gas Plant has the capacity to produce 12,000 tonnes a day of domestic gas, 52,000 tonnes a day of LNG, 4200 tonnes a day of LPG and 165,000 barrels per day (26,200 m3/d) of condensate. In 2008 annual LNG production capacity at the Karratha Gas Plant increased to 16.3 million tonnes with the start-up of a fifth, 4.4 million tonne-a-year LNG processing train.[citation needed]

The North West Shelf Venture’s offshore production facilities include the North Rankin Complex, Goodwyn A and Angel platforms, and the oil producing Okha (formerly Cossack Pioneer) floating production storage and offloading facility (FPSO). Hydrocarbons from the offshore production facilities are transported to the Karratha Gas Plant for processing via two subsea pipelines, otherwise known as trunklines. Oil produced from the Cossack, Wanaea, Lambert and Hermes fields in the Carnarvon Basin is processed offshore on the Okha FPSO which currently produces approximately 40,000 barrels per day (6,400 m3/d) of oil.[citation needed]

Woodside's joint venture partners in the North West Shelf Project are Shell, BHP Billiton, BP, Chevron and MIMI.[citation needed]

Pluto LNG Project[edit]

Approved for development in July 2007, Pluto will process gas from the Pluto and Xena gas fields, located in the Carnarvon Basin about 190 kilometres (120 mi) north-west of Karratha, Western Australia. The initial phase of the Pluto LNG Project comprises an offshore platform in 85m of water, connected to five subsea wells on the Pluto gas field. Gas will be piped in a 180-kilometre (110 mi) trunkline to the onshore facility, located between the North West Shelf Project and Dampier Port on the Burrup Peninsula. The total area of the Pluto leases for the onshore facility is about 200ha, of which the plant and associated infrastructure will cover about 80ha. Onshore infrastructure comprises a single LNG processing train with a forecast production capacity of 4.3 million tonnes a year. Storage and loading facilities at the plant include two LNG full-containment tanks[8] with a combined capacity of 240,000 m³, three smaller condensate tanks, and an LNG and condensate export jetty.[9]

Browse LNG Development[edit]

Main article: Browse LNG

The Browse LNG Development concept is to commercialise the Browse Joint Venture’s three gas and condensate fields, Brecknock, Calliance and Torosa, 400 kilometres (250 mi) off the Kimberley coast. In April 2013 an onshore LNG plant was determined to be too expensive and now alternative development concepts are being considered by the joint venture.[10]

Sunrise LNG Development[edit]

The Greater Sunrise gas development lies in the Timor Sea north of Australia and includes the Sunrise and Troubadour fields, which were discovered in 1974. Greater Sunrise is located about 450 kilometres (280 mi) north-west of Darwin and 150 kilometres (93 mi) south-east of Timor-Leste. Approximately 80% of the fields lie within Australian waters, with the remainder in jointly administered waters. The Greater Sunrise fields have a total contingent dry gas resource of 5.13 trillion cubic feet (145 billion cubic metres) and 225.9 million barrels (35.92×10^6 m3) of condensate. The Sunrise JV participants are Woodside (operator) (33.4%), ConocoPhillips (30%), Shell (26.6%) and Osaka Gas (10%).[11][unreliable source?]

In April 2010 Shell's floating liquefied natural gas technology was selected by the Sunrise Joint Venture for developing the Greater Sunrise gas fields in the Timor Sea. The Woodside-operated JV is now seeking to engage regulators on the concept selection process.[12]


In February 2006, the Mauritanian government led by Ely Ould Mohamed Vall denounced amendments to an oil contract made by former authoritarian leader Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya with Woodside Petroleum. In 2004, Woodside had agreed to invest US$600 million in developing Mauritania's Chinguetti offshore oil project. The controversial amendments, which Mauritanian authorities declared had been signed "outside the legal framework of normal practice, to the great detriment of our country", could cost Mauritania up to $200 million a year, according to BBC News.[13] The Australian Federal Police in June 2006 were investigating Woodside for allegations of bribery and corruption in Mauritania according to the Sydney Morning Herald.[14][15] The AFP officially cleared the company of any wrongdoing in May 2008.[citation needed]

In 2006-2007, as part of the Pluto LNG project, Woodside faced opposition over plans to build an onshore processing plant on the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia, as the site is home to significant petroglyphs up to 30,000 years old.[16]

It has been suggested that intense lobbying by Woodside Petroleum contributed to the coalition Howard government's initial decision against emissions trading in August 2000.[17] The company also opposed the Rudd Labor government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2009.[18]

Woodside is among six companies accused of making deceptive public statements in an attempt to get free carbon permits. The Australian Conservation Foundation says the companies exaggerated in public, but told a different story to their shareholders and investors. In June 2009, the ACF lodged an official complaint with the Federal consumer affairs watchdog asking that the matter be investigated.[19] The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took no action against the companies.[20]

In April 2011 Australia's Fair Work Ombudsman began an investigation into claims that foreign workers were underpaid on two North-West Shelf oil rigs operated by Woodside Petroleum.[21] In April 2013, the Federal Court in WA heard allegations that the workers were paid less than $3 an hour to work on the oil rigs. Documents tendered to the court claimed that the four men worked as painters on Woodside rigs on the North West Shelf off northern WA from July 2009 until early 2011.[22]

In the corporation's annual offshore performance report, published in mid-2013, the failure of an oil mist detector at Woodside Petroleum's Vincent oilfield in Western Australia was caused by faulty wiring and inadequately designed equipment. The issue was identified during a visit by a third party at Woodside's largest single source of oil production.[23]

James Price Point gas industrial complex[edit]

The "Save The Kimberley" campaign was an organised protest against Woodside's involvement with a proposal to construct the James Price Point gas industrial complex in Western Australia’s Kimberley region.[24] A protest concert was held at Melbourne, Australia's Federation Square in October 2012,[25] followed by a second event in early 2013 at The Esplanade in Fremantle, Western Australia that featured Dr Bob Brown, former leader of the Australian Greens political party.[26] A march to protest the proposed gas refinery construction at James Price Point accompanied the Fremantle concert, and campaign supporters were photographed with banners and placards.[27]

The proposal was eventually abandoned in April 2013, but the AU$1.5 billion social benefits package that had been brokered between the Kimberley Land Council and Woodside, together with its joint-venture partners and the Western Australian Colin Barnett-led government, remained an ongoing issue. Criticism was directed at the corporation by those who believed that Woodside was under an obligation to pay out the full monetary sum of the package to local Aboriginal organisations and communities. Former head of the Kimberley Land Council Wayne Bergmann, who brokered the deal prior to his resignation, explained to the media: "There was no legal right to that deal; it was broached politically and now they [Woodside, the joint-venture partners and the state government] need to honour the bargain." As of 15 April 2013, Woodside had paid AU$3.7 million to Aboriginal organisations in accordance with the agreement and a Woodside spokesperson stated that the corporation would "continue to support a range of voluntary social investment activities in the West Kimberley."[28]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ Woodside Official Website
  4. ^ Mark Willacy (23 April 2001). "Government rejects Shell bid for Woodside Petroleum". ABC PM. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  5. ^ Shell press release[dead link][dead link]
  6. ^ "Shareholders reject Woodside plans to repurchase stake from Shell". Perth Herald. Retrieved 3 August 2014. 
  7. ^ Woodside ASX announcement
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Pluto LNG Project". Woodside Petroleum. Archived from the original on 2011-10-29. 
  10. ^ "Woodside Petroleum Cancels Onshore L.N.G. Project in Australia". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-06-27. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Mauritania and firm row over oil". BBC News. 6 February 2006. "Crise ouverte avec la compagnie pétrolière Woodside". Radio France International. 6 February 2006. 
  14. ^ News story on prosecution
  15. ^ Sydney Morning Herald - Business report
  16. ^ Resources boom 'putting Aboriginal rock art at risk', ABC News Online, 25 July 2008
  17. ^ Pearse G High & Dry: John Howard, Climate Change and the Selling of Australia's Future Penguin (Australia) 2007, page 75]
  18. ^ Macdonald-Smith A Woodside ‘Remains Dismayed’ at Australia Carbon Plan Bloomberg Press, 10 March 2009
  19. ^ Contradictory carbon claims - ACCC complaint, Australian Conservation Foundation website, Retrieved 17 Jun 2009.
  20. ^ Senate gives resources giants nod on ETS evidence, by Laura Tingle, Australian Financial Review, 8 September 2009.
  21. ^ Ombudsman investigates foreign worker exploitation, ABC, 27 April 2011.
  22. ^ Rig painters off WA 'paid $3 an hour', AAP, 8 April 2013.
  23. ^ Paul Garvey (6 June 2013). "Woodside pulled up after failing to note safety flaw". The Australian. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  24. ^ Alex Tibbitts (4 October 2012). "150 join John Butler as he takes Kimberley gas plant blockade to BHP’s Melbourne HQ". The Wilderness Society. The Wilderness Society Australia Incorporated. Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  25. ^ "Concert for the Kimberley at Fed Square" (Video upload). The Age. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  26. ^ Tomlin, Sam (25 February 2013). "Stars fire up gas hub protest". The West Australian. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  27. ^ "News Live Reviews Photos Album Reviews Interviews Guide Bands Submit Win PHOTOS: CONCERT FOR THE KIMBERLEY AT FREMANTLE ESPLANADE" (Photo upload). Space Ship News. Space Ship News | Perth Music. February 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  28. ^ Paige Taylor (15 April 2013). "Woodside 'obliged' over $1.5bn social deal". The Australian. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 

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