Australian watchdog clears Woodside, BHP deal

Australia’s competition watchdog cleared Woodside’s merger agreement with BHP’s oil and gas business.

Woodside said last month it had signed a binding merger agreement with BHP’s oil and gas business. On the same day, it also took a final investment decision on the Scarborough and Pluto LNG Train 2 developments worth about $12 billion.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said in a statement on Thursday it would not oppose the proposed acquisition.

“We examined the proposed acquisition closely as it would combine two of the four largest domestic natural gas suppliers in Western Australia,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

The ACCC’s review focused on the supply of domestic natural gas in Western Australia given this is where Woodside and BHP Petroleum overlap in Australia.

Woodside’s and BHP Petroleum’s customers for LNG, LPG, condensate and oil are either offshore or in areas where Woodside and BHP Petroleum do not overlap.

“We found that post acquisition, Woodside would continue to face competition from a range of suppliers of domestic gas, including major producers Chevron and Santos, and from several other smaller suppliers including Shell and ExxonMobil. Woodside’s share of domestic gas after the acquisition will be approximately 20 percent,” Sims said.

On completion of the merger, Woodside will issue new shares expected to comprise about 48 percent of all Woodside shares on a post-issue basis as consideration for the acquisition of BHP Petroleum.

Moreover, the merger would create a global top 10 independent energy company by production and the largest energy company listed on the ASX, according to Woodside.

Woodside expects the merger to complete in the second quarter of 2022.

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