Woodside Petroleum is teaming up with US energy giant Noble to explore a deep water prospect off West Africa, just months after walking away from a joint deal in Israel.
The oil and gas company has bought a 40 per cent stake in an exploration, exploitation and production acreage off the coast of Gabon.
Woodside did not disclose the value of the deal, in which Noble Energy will hold a 60 per cent interest, and will be the operator.
But an analyst has questioned whether Woodside is under too much pressure to produce a major growth project, and whether it should rather return cash to shareholders.
Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman said the deal was an opportunity for his company to secure significant acreage in an emerging oil-prone province with a “like-minded and experienced partner”.
“This is yet another exciting opportunity for us in Africa, building on recent acquisitions in Tanzania and Morocco,” Mr Coleman said.
In May, Woodside abandoned its $US2.7 billion Leviathan joint venture gas deal in Israel after negotiations with Noble Energy and other partners broke down.
The Leviathan project was one of only two major long-term growth prospects for the company, with the other being Browse in Western Australia.
An analyst who did not wish to be named said Woodside was adopting a risky strategy of looking abroad for growth, rather than making their West Australian assets more efficient and reaping the rewards.
“If there’s nothing doing in Australia, just buy back shares and if you have to wait for the gas price to come down then so be it,” the analyst said.
“Going off around the world doesn’t play to their strengths at all.”
Woodside shares gained nine cents to $41.69.