BHP Holding Talks With Woodside on Deal to Exit Oil and Gas

(Bloomberg) — BHP Group is continuing talks over a potential merger of its petroleum business with Woodside Petroleum Ltd., in a deal which would accelerate the top miner’s retreat from fossil fuels.

The two companies are discussing options including “a potential merger involving BHP’s entire petroleum business through a distribution of Woodside shares to BHP shareholders,” Perth-based Woodside said Monday in a statement.

Plans by BHP to exit oil and gas come as global energy supermajors grapple with pressure from investors and governments over climate action, in some cases by shrinking core production and adding renewable energy assets. BHP, the world’s biggest mining company, generates the bulk of its profits from iron ore and copper.

“BHP confirms that we have initiated a strategic review of our petroleum business to re-assess its position and long-term strategic fit,” the company said in a separate statement. While talks with Woodside “are currently progressing, no agreement has been reached on any such transaction,” it said.

Though BHP has said it expects oil and gas demand to remain strong for at least another decade, and recently announced $800 million of investments in growth options, the company is wary of becoming stuck with assets that’ll become more difficult to exit as the world attempts to curb consumption of fossil fuels.

Chief Executive Officer Mike Henry has signaled plans to focus the company more closely on materials tied to renewables and electrification, including copper and nickel.

Output in BHP’s oil and gas unit, which includes operations in Australia’s Bass Strait and North West Shelf, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and in Trinidad and Tobago, declined 6% in the year to June 30. BHP is a partner in the projects with firms including BP Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Woodside.

BHP sold the majority of its shale unit to BP in 2018 for about $10.5 billion, and is advancing plans to exit its final thermal coal mine and some metallurgical coal operations. Those divestments would leave the company with only a handful of fossil fuels assets, a collection of mines in Queensland that supply coal to steelmakers.

Last month, Bloomberg News reported BHP was considering plans to quit oil and gas and that the business was estimated to be worth $15 billion or more. Woodside and BHP are in advanced talks over a deal worth about A$20 billion ($14.7 billion), the Australian Financial Review reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Melbourne-based BHP is scheduled to report annual results Tuesday.

(Updates with details from third paragraph)

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Matt Earle

Matthew Earle is the Founder of MiningFeeds. In 2005, Matt founded MiningNerds.com to provide data and information to the mining investment community. This site was merged with Highgrade Review to form MiningFeeds. Matt has a B.Sc. degree with a minor in geology from the University of Toronto.

By Matt Earle

Matthew Earle is the Founder of MiningFeeds. In 2005, Matt founded MiningNerds.com to provide data and information to the mining investment community. This site was merged with Highgrade Review to form MiningFeeds. Matt has a B.Sc. degree with a minor in geology from the University of Toronto.

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