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Shell Selling Canadian Natural Stakes, Nearing $30B Divestment Goal

Royal Dutch Shell plc has agreed to sell its stakes in oilsands producer Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. for about C$4.3 billion ($3.3 billion), nearly completing a $30 billion divestment goal.

Through Shell Gas BV, the oil major is divesting all of its shares, estimated at more than 97 million, or roughly 8% of Canadian Natural.

At the end of March, Shell had already completed $26 billion of an initial $30 billion divestment target. Management indicated last November that divestments are to continue at a rate of around $5 billion/year until at least 2020.

Even with the sale, however, Shell would retain a big position in Canada, with holdings in the Duvernay and Montney formations, as well as stakes in petrochemicals, refining and marketing.

In addition, Shell is leading a consortium to build LNG Canada, a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) project that if built, would be located on the west coast of British Columbia (BC). Shell Canada Energy Ltd. has a 50% interest with affiliates of PetroChina Corp. (20%), Korea Gas Corp. (15%) and Mitsubishi Corp. (15%).

The BC government has given LNG Canada until November to accept an incentives offer made in March to build the terminal. Shell executives remained noncommittal about the BC project when questioned during the first quarter conference call, saying only that the Canadian proposal is one entry in an international portfolio of opportunities.

Last month, JGC Corp. and Fluor Corp. were awarded engineering, procurement and contracting orders to design and build the project for an estimated $11 billion. If it were to move forward, LNG Canada would be developed in stages to load overseas tankers with up to 3.7 Bcf/d allowed by a 40-year National Energy Board export license.

Shell also still has a 10% stake in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP). Last year, Shell sold nearly all of its undeveloped in-situ and oilsands holdings, including a 50% stake in AOSP, to Canadian Natural for $8.5 billion. As part of the transaction, Canadian Natural agreed to issue about $4 billion of its shares to Shell in payment for various assets.

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