Woodside stock: Why I think it's the best ASX 200 energy share to own today

From juicy dividends to promising growth projects, there's a lot to like about Woodside stock.

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Woodside Energy Group Ltd (ASX: WDS) stock tops my list of S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) energy shares to own today.

Which is not to say there aren't a number of other quality ASX 200 energy shares worthy of my consideration.

But despite some stiff competition, Woodside stock rises to the top.

Here's why.

Why Woodside stock tops my ASX 200 energy share list

There's a lot to like about Woodside.

That includes the company's strong, proven management team, led by CEO Meg O'Neill.

Woodside also owns a portfolio of operational high-quality, low-cost oil and gas assets across the world. And the company isn't sitting on its laurels.

At Woodside's investor day briefing last week, O'Neill noted the company has "three world-class projects in execution in Australia, Senegal and Mexico".

Those projects are Sangomar, located in Senegal; Scarborough, located in Australia; and Trion, located in Mexico.

She added, "The combination of the strong base business and these new investments will generate strong future cash flows and returns for our shareholders across the price cycle."

Woodside is still working to secure the final environmental approvals for its offshore Western Australia Scarborough project. The company is aiming to supply the project's first LNG cargo in 2026.

I also like Woodside stock for its juicy, fully franked dividends. After all, who doesn't like some handy passive income landing in their bank account twice a year?

Over the past 12 months, the company has paid out a total of $3.40 in dividends. At the current Woodside share price of $32.58, the stock trades on a trailing yield of 10.4%. And with potential tax benefits from those franking credits.

What about oil prices?

While a range of factors, like those mentioned above, can impact Woodside stock, oil and gas prices are a big one to watch.

When energy prices were soaring in 2022, so too were Woodside's profits and dividends.

And a 10.5% drop in the Brent crude oil price since 18 October has been almost mirrored by an 11.7% decline in the Woodside share price over that same time.

But I think that decline makes now a potentially opportune time to buy the ASX 200 energy share.

The fall in oil prices has reversed in recent days. At US$82.72 per barrel, Brent crude is up 4% since last Wednesday.

And judging by the latest forecast from OPEC, energy prices could continue to rise from here, offering more tailwinds for Woodside stock.

In its monthly report, the cartel said it expects global oil demand to remain strong in 2024, while pointing the finger at day traders for causing the recent fall in prices.

According to Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA (quoted by Reuters):

The OPEC monthly oil market report appeared to push back against demand concerns, referencing overblown negative sentiment around Chinese demand while raising demand growth forecasts for this year and leaving them unchanged for next.

And on the supply side, the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) also offered some potential good news for Woodside stockholders.

The EIA is expecting a fall in US oil production in December, the second month of declining output in a row.

Motley Fool contributor Bernd Struben has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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