Tough questions asked at Woodside AGM

Andrew, Peter and Noemie, who questions the Woodside board at their 2016 AGM in Perth.

Andrew, Peter and Noemie, who questions the Woodside board at their 2016 AGM in Perth.

Woodside Petroleum’s annual general meeting in Perth yesterday saw Chairman Michael Chaney and CEO Peter Coleman face questions over political donations and corruption, as well as how their business model – grabbing fossil fuels out of the ground for other people to burn – fits in with a world aiming to put the Paris climate agreement into full effect.

Are you invested in Woodside Petroleum through your superannuation? There’s a good chance you are – check out our Super Switch campaign to see if your retirement savings are invested in dirty fossil fuels. 

It revealed a lot about how the company is seeing the future of their industry. While it’s unlikely that you’ll hear an oil and gas company talk about the end of oil and gas, both Chaney and Coleman made some interesting comments about the future of their sector. Asked about the risk of sinking shareholders’ money into potentially stranded assets, Chaney and Coleman’s comments included:

  • Acknowledging that demand for imported LNG in the key markets of Korea, Japan and China is declining
  • Expecting a surplus of LNG out to 2022-23
  • Noting that they are prioritising projects with a “clear line of sight” to becoming commercial, suggesting they can see the risks of investing in gas projects over the long term

Check out the video of this question here:

Another key issue was political donations, and Woodside’s board was challenged over previous political donations as well as whether they had properly disclosed all of their donations. Under questioning, Chairman Michael Chaney said even though it was unlikely that Woodside would donate to any political party in the upcoming federal election campaign, donations are an important part of our democracy and support parties that need the money. Yep. He said that. If you don’t believe us, here’s the footage:

 

This seemed to contradict an earlier undertaking Mr Chaney gave to Stephen Mayne, a long-time shareholder campaigner working to improve corporate governance. Mr Chaney told Mayne that he would look at changing the Woodside policy to exclude political donations.

Thanks to Noemie, Peter and Andrew for putting Woodside on the spot over climate risk, stranded assets and political donations. Shareholder action is an important part of our work and with several other AGMs coming up over the next few weeks, any shareholders or people willing to act as proxies for shareholders to attend AGMs can find out more about how to help out here.

One big AGM coming up soon is the Rio Tinto meeting in Brisbane, and we’re fundraising to send local residents from Bulga, NSW, to the meeting. Rio Tinto is planning to expand the already massive Mt Thorley Warkworth coal mine, which would threaten the historic town of Bulga, where residents already have to out up with air pollution and noise from the mining operations. Find out more and please chip in to the campaign so we can get these local heroes from Bulga to the Rio Tinto AGM and bring their campaign directly to the board and shareholders!