Australia's resources minister has welcomed the appointment of Meg O'Neill as Woodside's new chief executive, and is excited about the creation of a “Big Australian” company from the proposed merger of Woodside with BHP's petroleum division.

The minister, Keith Pitt, said the merged company would be in the top 10 of independent global oil and gas producers.

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“This creates a new 'Big Australian' in the global energy business," he said. "The new entity will have the resources to grow our traditional strengths of oil and gas production and to take advantage of new opportunities that emerge in energy production.”

Pitt congratulated O’Neil on her appointment as the new chief executive and managing director "of this new energy powerhouse".

“Having dealt with Ms O’Neil over the past few months since her appointment as interim CEO of Woodside, I am confident she is the right person to lead the new Woodside through the challenges of a merger of this size and complexity,” Pitt added.

O'Neill was appointed on 17 August succeeding Peter Coleman, who retired from Woodside in June.

She joined Woodside in May 2018 as chief operations officer. In October 2019, she became executive vice president development, and in August 2020 assumed responsibility for marketing

Before joining Woodside, O’Neill held senior technical and business positions at ExxonMobil including assignments in Indonesia, Norway, Canada and the US and regional roles responsible for Asia Pacific and Africa.

She holds dual Bachelor degrees in Ocean Engineering and Chemical Engineering and a Masters Degree in Ocean Systems Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Senior role: Woodside chief financial officer Sherry Duhe Photo: WOODSIDE

Woodside's second-most senior executive is chief financial officer Sherry Duhe, and its executive vice president operations is Fiona Hick.

Meanwhile, the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA), which represents the country's upstream industry, said O’Neill’s vast experience and proven track record made her an excellent choice for chief executive.

A major upcoming decision of importance to both Woodside and BHP is a final investment decision on the Scarborough liquefied natural gas project later this year.

APPEA said O'Neill has been "instrumental in leading the Scarborough development which, if approved, would deliver significant benefits".

On the subject of Scarborough, Pitt said that a final investment decision on Scarborough "will demonstrate real confidence in the future of Australia’s gas industry, our LNG export industry and in the Australian government’s determination for a gas led recovery".