Woodside Petroleum is Australia’s largest producer of gas, and is pursuing massive expansion plans consistent with the failure of the Paris Agreement.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), reaching net zero emissions by 2050 means no new oil and gas production can proceed. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has also confirmed that limiting global warming to 1.5°C in line with the Paris Agreement means “global fossil fuel production must start declining immediately and steeply.”

It is abundantly clear that achieving these climate goals and a stable climate future leaves no room for the expansion of the oil and gas industry. Despite this, Woodside is pursuing massive new oil and gas projects consistent with the failure of these goals, such as the massive and highly controversial Scarborough gas project. Many Australian financial institutions continue to support Woodside and its climate-wrecking projects.

Almost every super fund in Australia invests members’ retirement savings in Woodside, and at least 27 Australian and international banks—including ANZ and Westpac—have provided finance to the company since 2018. Many of these financial institutions claim to support the Paris Agreement and net zero emissions by 2050, yet continue to support a company pursuing plans consistent with the failure of these goals.

Woodside is undermining a stable climate future by pursuing new oil and gas projects. Our super funds and banks must stop investing in Woodside and its climate-wrecking projects and plans now.

TAKE ACTION!

Tell your super fund to stop investing in Woodside and its climate-wrecking expansion plans

The super funds failing to rule out investment in Woodside

Almost every single Australian super fund invests in Woodside, using members’ retirement savings to support its climate-wrecking projects and plans. A handful of super funds have either substantially divested from, have some form of exclusion on, or have plans to phase out oil and gas producers, meaning that we are starting to see a trickle of divestment from Woodside. However, this divestment is not happening at the scale nor pace commensurate with the climate crisis we face, and all super funds need to exclude companies like Woodside from their portfolios altogether.

Of Australia’s biggest 40 super funds by assets under management (AUM), not a single one has implemented a fund-wide exclusion on companies expanding the scale of the oil and gas industry, meaning these funds are using members’ retirement savings to support Woodside’s massive expansion plans. Worse still, several super funds have voted against shareholder proposals calling on Woodside to wind up its oil and gas production in line with the climate goals of the Paris Agreement.

We have also calculated and presented the below funds’ investments in Woodside as a proportion of each fund’s total allocation to Australian listed equities (shares listed on the Australian stock market), as this allows for direct comparison between funds. Other data points, such as investment exposure as a proportion of the total fund, or dollar value of investments in these companies are incomparable because funds have different allocations to Australian listed equities and different amounts of money in the investment pool. 

Has your super fund failed to rule out investment in Woodside? Check the list below and take action!

Investment exposure to Woodside and proxy voting behaviour of Australia’s biggest super funds by assets under management

wdt_ID Fund Investment option profiled Investment exposure (% of Australian Equities) Voted against wind up resolution in 2021? Total Members Total Assets Under Management
1 AustralianSuper Balanced 0.17 Against 2,468,216 244.90
2 Commonwealth Super Corp PSS Default 0.90 Not disclosed 675,701 244.80
3 Australian Retirement Trust (formed after the merger between QSuper and Sunsuper) Balanced Pool 1.11 Split* 2,074,452 235.10
4 Aware Super High Growth 0.72 Abstain 1,123,049 153.60
5 AMP MySuper 1970's 1.39 Not disclosed 1,150,081 118.90
6 MLC (owned by IOOF) MySuper Growth 1.00 Against 1,049,985 109.70
7 BT Financial Group BT Panorama 0.81 Against 1,005,020 109.20
8 UniSuper Balanced 0.18 Against 497,959 102.60
9 Colonial First State FirstChoice Wholesale Growth 0.80 Split 846,980 96.90
10 REST Core Strategy 0.96 Against 1,846,992 67.00

Holdings information as at 31 December 2021.

*Proxy voting information pertaining to Australian Retirement Trust reflects the combined voting behaviour of QSuper and Sunsuper, prior to the merger. QSuper voted against, and Sunsuper voted for, the Woodside ‘Capital Protection’ resolution in 2021.

Methodology and sources

Methodology

The scope of our analysis covers Australia’s largest 32 super funds by assets under management, according to APRA’s June 2021 fund-level superannuation statistics, Table 1 and Table 2. Where mergers between super funds have occurred since June 2021, the single merged entity is listed on the table (noting the previous fund name/s) and occupies only one position on the table, unless the merged funds remain as standalone brands with standalone policies. We identified:

  • Each fund’s investment exposure to Woodside Petroleum, as a proportion of its total allocation to Australian equities in its default (or largest, by AUM) investment option as at 31 December 2021, and;
  • How each fund voted on the Market Forces-coordinated ‘Capital Protection’ shareholder proposal at the annual general meeting (AGM) of Woodside in 2021.

Where a fund’s total allocation to Australian equities for 31 December 2021 was not disclosed or not apparent from its holdings disclosures, the option’s disclosed strategic asset allocation (or the most recent actual asset allocation, if available) was used to calculate the fund’s exposure to Woodside, as a proportion of Australian listed equities.

The information in the above table pertains to 24 of Australia’s largest 32 funds, for the following reasons:

  • QSuper and Sunsuper have recently merged to form Australian Retirement Trust;
  • HUB24 and Netwealth do not have investment options comparable to the rest of those captured in the study;
  • CommBank Group Super and Macquarie do not disclose total or strategic allocation to Australian equities, nor is this information apparent from its holdings disclosure. We therefore did not have enough information to analyse these funds’ investments in Woodside as a proportion of Australian listed equities, and;
  • IOOF, OnePath and StateWide are yet to disclose their full list of investment holdings.

Where a fund’s proxy voting disclosure reads ‘Split,’ this means that the fund has voted some of its shares in different ways on the relevant proposal, for example some shares for and some against, or some abstaining and some against. In the case of QSuper and Sunsuper, both funds voted differently on the Woodside ‘Capital Protection’ resolution prior to the merger (QSuper voted against, Sunsuper voted for).

Sources

Portfolio holdings disclosures for all funds are effective as at 31 December 2021, and were sourced from each fund’s website (see below). Proxy voting information was sourced from Proxy Insight (a subscription service), or from each fund’s own proxy voting disclosure. Total allocation to Australian equities calculated from portfolio holdings disclosure unless noted below.

The banks financing Woodside’s climate-wrecking business plans

Since 2018, a number of domestic and international banks—including ANZ and Westpac—have either loaned to, or arranged finance for, Woodside and its climate-wrecking projects and plans. ANZ and Westpac claim to support the goals of net zero emissions by 2050 and the Paris Agreement. However, both of these banks have loaned money to Woodside, enabling the company to pursue oil and gas production projects consistent with the failure of these global climate goals.

Has your bank loaned to, or arranged finance for, Woodside since 2018? Check out the list below and take action!

Banks that have loaned to, or arranged finance for, Woodside since 2018

  • ABN AMRO
  • Agricultural Bank of China
  • ANZ
  • Bank of China
  • BNP Paribas
  • Chiba Bank
  • China Construction Bank
  • Citigroup Global Markets
  • Credit Agricole
  • Credit Industriel et Commercial
  • DBS Bank
  • DnB ASA
  • Export Development Canada
  • Hua Nan Commercial Bank
  • Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)
  • ING
  • Mega International Commercial Bank
  • Merrill
  • MUFG Bank
  • Mizuho Bank
  • Morgan Stanley Australia
  • Scotiabank
  • Shinsei Bank
  • Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings
  • Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC)
  • UBS
  • Westpac

Please note: This list was last updated on 11 March 2022

TAKE ACTION!

Send a message to the banks financing Woodside and tell them to stop funding climate failure

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Planning for climate catastrophe: the climate-wrecking projects and expansion plans Woodside is pursuing

Woodside is pursuing massive new oil and gas projects consistent with the failure of the Paris Agreement, including the monstrous Scarborough gas field off the coast of Western Australia (WA), and the associated Pluto Train 2 liquified natural gas (LNG) processing plant. In late 2021, the company also agreed to take over BHP’s entire petroleum business, which would roughly double Woodside’s oil and gas production capacity and make it a global top ten independent oil and gas company. This takeover will be voted on at the company’s 2021 annual general meeting (AGM), and, if it goes ahead, this means Woodside could be spending around $26 billion on expansionary oil and gas projects by 2030 that are incompatible with the Paris climate goals.

Despite the urgent need for fossil fuel production to begin declining in line with global climate goals, Woodside plans to significantly increase the combined total of Woodside and BHP’s oil and gas production over the next five years. Beyond clearly contravening the IEA’s key conclusion that there is no room for new oil and gas production projects in the pathway to net zero emissions by 2050, a number of independent analyses of new oil and gas production projects being pursued by Woodside reveals how significantly out of line they are with global climate goals. Carbon tracker, for example, has found that Woodside’s proposed Pluto Train 2 facility is not even financially competitive in a catastrophic 2.7°C global warming scenario, let alone in a world where we achieve the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.

Woodside plans to develop one of the most polluting projects Australia has ever seen: the massive Scarborough gas field off the coast of WA and its associated LNG processing facility, Pluto Train 2.

Woodside’s proposed Scarborough gas and Pluto LNG project could result in the emissions equivalent of 15 coal-fired power stations running for 30 years, threaten to accelerate degradation of the Murujuga rock art (proposed for World Heritage listing) due to industrial emissions, and would also cause significant impacts to the local marine environment. Independent analysis has concluded the Scarborough-Pluto combined project “…represents a bet against the world implementing the Paris Agreement”.

Gas flaring at Woodside’s Pluto LNG processing facility. Image courtesy of the Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA).

Gas flaring at Woodside’s Pluto LNG processing facility. Image courtesy of the Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA).

Sangomar is a new oil field proposed for development off the coast of Senegal. In 2021, Woodside acquired FAR Ltd’s interest in the project, increasing the company’s stake in Sangomar to 82%. Woodside is hoping for production to start in 2023, with the first phase aiming to produce 230 million barrels of climate-wrecking oil.

Carbon Tracker identified the $4.6bn Sangomar project as incompatible with the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS)—a pathway that only aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2070—let alone a net zero by 2050 scenario. The Sangomar project is yet another example of Woodside’s reckless pursuit of fossil fuel projects that undermine global climate goals.

In 2021, Woodside, agreed to take over BHP’s entire petroleum business. Aside from roughly doubling Woodside’s oil and gas production capacity, this proposed takeover would place Woodside amongst the biggest oil and gas producers in the world. Some of these proposed projects Woodside may take on include:

  • BHP’s share in Scarborough-Pluto
  • The Trion oil field, located in the Gulf of Mexico. If this project goes ahead, it would add production capacity equal to an extra 11% on top of Woodside and BHP’s combined 2020 production levels
  • The Browse basin, located off the coast of WA. This gas field could add further capacity equal to 14% above Woodside and BHP’s combined 2020 production if it goes ahead

Trashing the environment and destroying cultural heritage

Woodside has a track record of causing environmental damage and dodging accountability for it. In 2017, it was revealed that Woodside was responsible for an oil spill the previous year, which leaked 10,500 litres of oil into the ocean off the coast of WA over a period of two months. This spill was kept secret by the offshore oil and gas regulator, NOPSEMA (National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority).

Looking forward, Woodside continues to shirk responsibility for the emissions from its climate-wrecking business activities. The company has committed to achieving net zero ‘scope 1 and 2’ (or ‘operational’) emissions by 2050, despite these emissions only accounting for approximately 10% of the company’s overall emissions profile. Much of the remaining 90% of Woodside’s emissions—its ‘scope 3’ emissions—come from customers burning its oil and gas for energy use. The chart (Figure 1) shows Woodside’s totally inadequate 2025 emissions reduction target (a 15% reduction in scope 1 and 2 emissions) has almost no impact on the company’s estimated emissions pathway, which is actually expected to increase due to its increasing production plans.

New Hope Corp's New Acland coal mine, February 2016

Figure 1: The estimated impact of Woodside’s 2025 emissions reduction target vs. its estimated emissions profile

Woodside’s claim of support for the Paris climate goals appears misleading, in light of the fact that the company’s increased production plans are likely to see its emissions increase over the next five to ten years. Taking Woodside’s own production projections—applying conservative assumptions where required and assuming Woodside fully implements its emissions targets—our analysis shows that Woodside and BHP Petroleum’s combined annual emissions (from production, excluding Woodside’s traded LNG business) are likely to increase by at least 11% from 2020 to 2027.

Furthermore, despite repeated claims from Woodside (and the broader gas industry) that increasing LNG exports would reduce global emissions by displacing coal in Asia, a CSIRO study—commissioned and then withheld from the public by Woodside—contradicts this claim, finding increasing Australian gas supply could prolong coal, displace renewables and actually increase emissions in Asia.

New Hope Corp's New Acland coal mine, February 2016

One of the many pieces of rock art at Murujuga. Image courtesy of CCWA.

Woodside’s regard for Indigenous cultural heritage is no better than its consideration for the environment. In the 1980’s, the construction of the Karratha gas plant—a joint venture owned and operated by Woodside but co-owned with BHP, Shell, Chevron, BP, and Japan Australia LNG—saw the destruction of 5,000 pieces of Indigenous rock art.

Worse still, Woodside’s destructive activities at Murujuga (also known as the Burrup Peninsula) continue to this very day. Industrial emissions from its Pluto 2 LNG processing facility threaten to accelerate the degradation of the Murujuga rock art—a 40,000 year-old collection of rock art containing Indigenous cultural and spiritual knowledge—undermining efforts to achieve world heritage listing for the site. Woodside’s blatant disregard for Indigenous cultural heritage has been dubbed “Juukan Gorge in slow motion,” a reference to Rio Tinto’s destruction of the 46,000 year-old rock shelters in WA’s Pilbara region.

For more information on Woodside’s despicable track record on environmental, social and cultural heritage damage, check out the Woodside Come Clean web page.

LATEST WOODSIDE NEWS

Woodside’s climate ‘plan’ full of hot air

Woodside’s climate ‘plan’ full of hot air

17 February 2022 Reacting to Woodside’s Climate Report released today, Market Forces Asset Management Campaigner Will van de Pol said, “Woodside’s three point ‘plan’ to address its gargantuan scope 3 emissions profile amounts to nothing more than more hot air.”...

Page last updated March 2022. Unless otherwise specified, all currencies are in AUD.

Disclaimer

The information provided by Market Forces does not constitute financial advice. The information is presented in order to inform people motivated by environmental concerns and take actions based on those concerns. Market Forces is organising data for environmental ends.

The information and actions provided by Market Forces do not account for any individual’s personal objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon, or treated as a substitute for specific professional advice.

Market Forces recommends all users obtain their own independent professional advice before making any decision relating to their particular requirements or circumstances. Switching super funds may have unintended financial consequences.

Market Forces does not receive funding from any super funds or other financial institutions.

For more information about Market Forces, please visit the about page of the site. To see how we profile super funds go to the methodology page.

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