Shareholders have approved Woodside Petroleum’s (Woodside) proposed merger with BHP Group’s petroleum arm to create a top ten independent oil and gas producer worth $40bn.
According to a vote count at the company’s annual meeting yesterday – 98.66 per cent were in favour of the deal.
The merger, which was agreed last August, advances BHP’s effort to move away from fossil fuels as it looks to decarbonise, while doubling Woodside’s oil and gas production and beefing up its funding for growth.
Woodside’s chief executive Meg O’Neill told shareholders: “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,”
BHP will be paid in Woodside shares. giving BHP investors a 48 per cent stake in the merged group that will have assets across Australia, US, Mexico, Senegal and Trinidad.
While backing the merger, shareholders expressed disappointment in Woodside’s climate plan, which does not set targets for reducing its customers’ emissions, known as Scope 3 emissions.
In a separate vote, 49 per cent of shareholder voiced their opposition to the group’s climate plan, which Woodside put to an advisory vote for the first time.
Two proxy advisers recommended voting against the plan.
During the meeting, Woodside chairman Richard Goyder ordered the microphone to be cut off after one proxy for a shareholder asked whether the company’s plans to invest in fossil fuels were “morally mad, economically mad or both”, to which the chairman replied, “Or neither”.
However, Goyder acknowledged the company clearly needs to engage more with shareholders to explain its plans are in line with Paris Agreement goals.
O’Neill said Woodside’s strategy on Scope 3 is to come up with clean products, such as hydrogen, for its customers.