Woodside shareholders back BHP petroleum merger

Pluto LNG processes gas from the offshore Pluto and Xena gas fields in Western Australia. (Image courtesy of Woodside.)

Woodside Petroleum’s (ASX: WPL) shareholders have almost unanimously backed a merger with BHP’s (ASX, LON, NYSE: BHP) petroleum division, cementing the world’s top miner’s exit from the oil and gas industry amid increasing global pressure to curb emissions

The 98.66% approval for the all-stock deal with BHP at a shareholder vote in Perth creates a top ten global independent oil and gas producer worth $40 billion.

The companies expect to complete the merger on June 1, BHP said in a separate statement. The business combination will give BHP investors a 48% stake in the expanded Woodside, which will have assets in Australia, the United States, Mexico, Senegal and Trinidad.

“The merger is an opportunity for Woodside to increase its contribution to the world’s growing energy needs and build the scale, resilience and diversity to thrive through the energy transition,” Chief Executive Officer Meg O’Neill told shareholders.

Chairman Richard Goyder acknowledged there was “work to be done” on the climate report, which received an almost 49% rejection from environmental Proxy adviser CGI Glass Lewis, saying that Woodside lagged behind its peers and appeared to “overly rely on carbon offsets” to meet emissions targets.

“Our shareholders’ views are important to us and will continue to inform our approach as it evolves,” Goyder said, but declined to guarantee the company would ever again put a climate report to the AGM.

BHP’s oil and gas assets will boost Woodside’s annual output to 200 million barrels of oil equivalent. That is almost double the combined volume produced by rivals Santos (ASX: STO) and Oil Search (ASX: OSH), which merged in December last year.