Santos flags higher dividend

AAP, with a staff reporter

Santos has flagged that it could return more cash to shareholders through higher dividends and confirmed its liquefied natural gas  portfolio was on track. 

At the company's annual general meeting today incoming chairman Ken Borda said the group planned to review its dividend policy as its liquefied natural gas joint venture in Papua New Guinea (PNG LNG) approached production next year.

"We want to reward shareholders as earnings increase," he said. 

"But we need to do so in a way that strikes the right balance between dividends and ongoing investment for growth."

He said Santos was a growth company and changes to its dividend policy would need to be sustainable.

In February, Santos declared a full-year dividend of 15 cents per share.

Earlier this month, oil and gas giant Woodside Petroleum announced a $500 million special dividend after shelving its $45 billion Browse project in Western Australia.

Santos said its PNG LNG project, operated by ExxonMobil, was 80 per cent complete and on track for first production in 2014.

The PNG LNG Komo airfield was completed recently and the workforce now comprised 20,000 people.

Santos' GLNG project, which is part of several coal seam gas-to-LNG projects near Gladstone in Queensland, is half complete and on track for first LNG production in 2015.

Santos also said its Fletcher Finucane oil project, off the West Australian coast, would be commissioned later this month ahead of schedule.

Chief executive David Knox said overall the business was in good shape and growing.

"Our LNG portfolio, which is critical to achieving our vision of being a leading oil and gas company in the region, is on track," Mr Knox said.