Woodside Says Profit Increases During the First Half of 2007

Woodside says its reported net profit after tax (NPAT) of $610.1 million for the first half (1H) 2007 is 16.3% higher than the $524.4 million for the corresponding period in 2006. The 1H 2007 reported net profit after tax includes significant items of the realized gain on the sale of Legendre $56.8 million (after tax) and the entity which held a PNG retention lease (RL) $7.9 million (after tax).

The underlying 1H 2007 NPAT (before significant items) is $545.4 million, 10.6% higher than the underlying 1H 2006 NPAT (before significant items) of $493.3 million.

Increased profit was driven by production and higher sales volumes, with contribution from Enfield and strong performance from the Cossack Pioneer. Compared to the prior period, profit was negatively impacted by the strong Australian dollar and increased depreciation. Higher depreciation charges relate to the start up of Enfield and intervention work on Chinguetti.

Revenues from oil and gas operations were $1,869.0 million, up 19.2% from $1,567.9 million in 1H 2006.

Woodside's production for 1H 2007 was 35.0 MMboe, which was 17.1% higher than the 29.9 MMboe of the previous corresponding period. Increased production benefited from the commencement of production at Enfield and increased performance from the Cossack Pioneer, along with less cyclone activity than in 1H 2006.

The 1H 2007 sales volume of 34.7 MMboe was 19.2% higher than the 29.1 MMboe sold in 1H 2006.

Woodside drilled five exploration wells in the first half of 2007, four of which encountered non-commercial quantities of hydrocarbons and one was a dry hole. In addition, the top-holes of four wells were drilled and suspended due to rig equipment issues. Another rig will return to drill the bottom-holes later in the year. This compares to the 15 exploration wells drilled in 1H 2006.

The 1H 2007 expensed exploration, evaluation and license acquisition costs amount to $232.8 million, and were 1.5% higher than 1H 2006.

Royalties and excise charges of $130.8 million were higher by 10.7%, primarily due to higher sales volumes from the Cossack field. Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (PRRT) of $98.2 million was up 52.5% primarily due to higher sales from Enfield.

Long-term debt at the end of 1H 2007 was US$974 million in the form of bilateral loans and two 10-year US$ bonds, down US$201 million from 1H 2006. Short-term debt increased due to a US$250 million bond being reclassified as current debt (maturing in April 2008) which was partially off-set by the repayment of the 364-day and bilateral current credit facilities of US$115 million (1H 2006). Gearing (net debt/(net debt + equity)) at the end of the half-year decreased to 21.7% compared with 30.2% at the end of 1H 2006, largely due to the activation of the Dividend Reinvestment Plan and improved working capital during the period.

Depreciation, amortization and restoration charges increased 72.2% to $357.8 million due to commencement of production in Enfield and higher charges associated with increased Gryphon and Cossack production.

The first-half net cash from operating activities of $1,442.3 million was 58.7% higher than that of 1H 2006 ($908.6 million), largely in response to the significantly higher revenue achieved in 1H 2007 and management of working capital.

A total interim dividend of 49 cents per share fully franked will be paid on 26 September 2007 to all shareholders registered at 31 August 2007. This compares with a total interim dividend in the 2006 corresponding period of 49 cents per share fully franked. The ex-dividend date for the interim dividend will be 27 August.

Woodside is expecting the Otway start-up to supplement production during the second half of 2007, with the potential for production from Stybarrow and Neptune in late Q4.

Full year production is expected to be within the 72 - 78 MMboe range specified at the beginning of the year.