Australia's Woodside to Sell Stake in Scarborough to Japan's JERA for $1.4 Billion

(Reuters) — Woodside Energy is selling a 15.1% stake in its Scarborough project to Japan's JERA for about $1.4 billion, marking the Australian gas producer's second stake sale to a Japanese liquefied natural gas (LNG) buyer in six months.

The estimated value of the non-operating participating interest sale deal comprises a purchase price of about $740 million and reimbursement to Woodside for JERA's share of expenditure incurred from the transaction effective date of Jan. 1, 2022, Woodside said on Friday.

The deal is JERA's largest overseas LNG stake acquisition, Yuichiro Kato, executive officer of JERA, told a press conference on Friday. JERA, Japan's biggest power generator, is looking at funding the purchase through a combination of equity capital and debt, he added.

In August 2023, Woodside announced a sale of 10% participating interest in Scarborough to LNG Japan for $500 million.

Resource-scarce Japan is the world's second-biggest LNG importer after China. Despite gradually cutting imports of the fuel over the past decade, thanks to nuclear power restarts and renewable energy, it still relies on LNG for a third of its electricity mix.

Japanese firms have been diversifying their sources of LNG through acquisitions abroad. In December, Japan's biggest city gas supplier Tokyo Gas bought Texas-based natural gas producer Rockcliff Energy for $2.7 billion.

The stake sale to JERA was expected to be completed in the second half of 2024, Woodside said in a statement.

If both the stake sales go through, Woodside will end up with a 74.9% interest in the $12 billion Scarborough gas project and continue as its operator. The project continues to target its first LNG cargo for 2026.

"JERA's participation in the Scarborough joint venture, which will also include LNG Japan, is a further demonstration of the importance of the project to Japanese customers and confidence in long-term demand," Woodside CEO Meg O’Neill said in the statement.

"We are also looking forward to exploring new energy and business opportunities alongside JERA."

Woodside also entered into a non-binding agreement with JERA to supply six LNG cargoes from its global portfolio on a delivered ex-ship basis per year for a decade starting 2026.

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