Woodside chief executive Meg O’Neill says merger with Santos is ‘no certainty’


O’Neill said Scarborough now had all its required environmental approvals except for a plan for the operation of the offshore facility which it would submit in the coming months.

The so-called Scope 3 emissions from Scarborough – the carbon pollution from its customers burning its gas – will be prominent when the offshore regulator (NOPSEMA) considers the operations plan and will be at the forefront of investors’ minds when Woodside issues a new climate plan in February.

Woodside wants to extend the life of its ageing North West Shelf LNG plant to 2070 so it can process gas from newly developed fields.Credit: Woodside

Woodside’s current climate plan which has no target to reduce Scope 3 emissions was rejected by a record 49 per cent of its owners in 2021 and the new report faces a non-binding vote at its annual meeting in May.

“We actually do have a plan to address Scope 3, and it’s making fairly significant investments of $US5 billion [$7.6 billion] in products and services that will offer lower carbon energy to our customers,” O’Neill said.

Richard Proudlove, director of corporate engagement at the Investor Group on Climate Change whose members manage more than $30 trillion of investments, said such investments gave some confidence to investors.

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“However, this confidence can be undermined by the lack of a clear Scope 3 strategy or target and the continued investment in oil and gas projects,” he said.

Proudlove said his members wanted to place their funds with companies that had clear long-term plans to decarbonise products they offered.

“Ultimately, demand for fossil fuels will decline substantially from today’s levels,” he said.

“Investors are looking for a clear understanding of how companies affected by this decline are responding.”

Output in December from Woodside’s half-share in ExxonMobil’s Bass Strait operation, which supplies about 40 per cent of the east coast’s gas needs, crashed 34 per cent from a year ago. The two companies struck an agreement with the federal government this week for additional production through to 2033.

December quarter production for Woodside’s foundation asset, the North West Shelf liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, was down 20 per cent from a year ago as flow from its gas fields declined. Woodside plans to permanently close one of the project’s five LNG production trains this year.

Woodside also said that Ashok Belani, a petroleum engineer who had a 43-year career with oil and gas exploration services company SLB, had joined its board.

Belani will continue to advise SLB, where O’Neill’s predecessor as Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman sits on the board.

Woodside shares were flat yesterday, dipping just 0.4 per cent to $30.97 a share.

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