Australia Markets closed

Woodside on target to hit 2013 guidance

Woodside Petroleum has achieved a record 2012 production result and hopes to do even better this year as it develops more projects overseas.

The energy producer lifted production and revenue by about 30 per cent in 2012 due to its massive Pluto liquefied natural gas operations in Western Australia.

Production in 2012 was 84.9 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe), up 31 per cent from 64.6 mmboe in 2011 and close to the top-end of previously-issued guidance.

"Our full-year production levels clearly demonstrate what a game-changer Pluto is for Woodside, with production levels consistently above our expectations," Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman said on Thursday.

Production began at the Pluto project in April 2012, and its ramp-up has exceeded expectations.

Revenue in the 12 months to December 31 was $6.2 billion, up 30 per cent from $4.8 billion in 2011.

Woodside reiterated its 2013 production target range of 88 to 94 mmboe, comprising 41 per cent from Pluto, 47 per cent from North West Gas facilities and 12 per cent from other assets.

Mr Coleman said the strength of the Pluto project had enabled Woodside to pursue growth opportunities, such as the recently-announced exploration agreements in Israel and Myanmar (Burma).

In the fourth quarter Woodside's production was up 46 per cent from the previous corresponding period.

State One analyst Peter Kopetz said the company would look to new overseas projects as production at Pluto hit the top-end of guidance.

"That bodes well for what's going to happen in 2013," Mr Kopetz said.

"Hopefully they can come through with the goods like they did in 2012."

Woodside would continue to focus on Pluto which had turned around the company's cash flows.

"With lower capital expenditure they've decided to venture outside, looking at Israel, Myanmar and shale gas in the US."

He said the company was seeking to diversify and lower its risks in the lead up to a final investment decision (FID) on the controversial Browse gas project in Western Australia in mid-2013.

Morningstar resources analyst Mark Taylor said Woodside's 2013 production guidance was realistic, but he does not support management's decision to go into Israel after the company broke even on a venture in Mauritania last decade.

"I'm not thrilled about it," he said.

"You start making some money from Pluto at long last and you're going to run over into Israel, into somewhere that's not particularly familiar with all those sovereign risk issues and everything else.

"I don't think it's a good idea."

At 1528 AEDT Woodside shares were 12.5 cents, or 0.34 per cent, higher at $35.32.

Woodside will release its 2012 full year financial results on February 20.