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Santos hands more profits to investors as oil, gas prices surge


Santos, one of Australia’s largest oil and gas producers, has doubled the size of its share buyback program to more than $1 billion and outlined a new plan to increase returns for investors as surging commodity prices boost the company’s cash flow and outlook.

Like other fossil fuel giants worldwide, Adelaide-based Santos has reported booming revenue this year due to the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine deepening a global energy crunch and pushing oil and natural gas prices sharply higher.

It’s boom times for Santos as the global energy crunch is pushing oil and gas prices higher.

It’s boom times for Santos as the global energy crunch is pushing oil and gas prices higher.Credit:AP

Crude oil prices traded at an average level above $US100 barrel in the first nine months of the year, up from $US70 a barrel last year. Meanwhile, uncontracted Australian cargoes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in North Asia have been selling at elevated prices around $US30 per million British thermal units, more than triple the same time last year.

Santos chairman Keith Spence said the company would double its existing $US350 million share buyback to $US700 million ($1.05 billion), and introduce a policy of returning at least 40 per cent of free cash flow to shareholders each year.

“In addition, the board shall give consideration to additional shareholder returns from any net proceeds derived from asset divestments through portfolio optimisation once those divestments reach completion and proceeds have been received,” Spence said.


After the 2020 oil price crash drove multibillion-dollar writedowns across the energy industry, record earnings this year are delivering a windfall for investors, but have also been targeted by political leaders amid public anger over the impact of higher commodity prices driving up domestic power and gas bills.

US President Joe Biden has said oil and gas companies shouldn’t be launching buybacks and increasing dividends to return record profits to shareholders while the war continued to rage in Ukraine.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews last week stepped up his attacks on gas producers, accusing them of “profiteering off misery in Europe” and “gouging in its purest form”.


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