Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd plans to invest $5 billion by 2030 mainly in hydrogen, in line with a global push for cleaner energy, armed with cash flow from its planned merger with BHP Group's petroleum arm.
Woodside Chief Executive Meg O'Neill outlined her energy transition plan on Wednesday, which she said was based on the assumption that its $28 billion merger with BHP's petroleum arm to create a global top 10 oil and gas company goes ahead.
Investing in hydrogen and carbon capture and storage are the best ways for the enlarged Woodside to use its oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) skills and maintain returns to shareholders in the energy transition, the CEO said.
Woodside will target an internal rate of return of more than 10% and a payback within 10 years on new energy projects - a lower hurdle than for its riskier oil and gas projects.
The company is focused on three hydrogen projects - two in Australia that would produce ammonia from hydrogen for export, and one in the United States, looking to produce liquid hydrogen for the local market.
It plans to start small on all three, but has plans to scale them up as demand grows.
It is also working with BP Plc and Japan's Mitsui & Co and Mitsubishi Corp to study the feasibility of carbon capture and storage (CCS) at a depleted gas field offshore Western Australia, but O'Neill said offshore CCS was only likely to go ahead later this decade.
The $5 billion new energy target would need to be reviewed if the merger with BHP failed to go ahead.
"But again, we have full confidence that our shareholders will support the merger," O'Neill told analysts at an online strategy briefing.
Woodside expects to put the merger to a vote in the second quarter of 2022.
Missing from Woodside's outline of the merged group's portfolio of assets was its acreage in Myanmar.
O'Neill said all its business decisions in Myanmar were under review following a military coup in February, which led to the jailing of former leader Aung San Suu Kyi this week.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne and Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Himani Sarkar)
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