Shell to partially sell stake in Australia's Woodside for $3.3bn

08 November 2010 08:02  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Oil and gas giant Shell announced on Monday its plan to sell its 29.18% stake in Woodside Petroleum Ltd for A$3.31bn ($3.28bn) as part of its strategy to refocus its business in Australia.

The stake up for sale comprised 78.24m shares at A$42.23 each, leaving Shell with a 24.27% interest in the Australian firm held by subsidiary Shell Energy Holdings Australia Ltd (SEHAL), the company said.

UBS was tapped as the underwriter for the share sale of Woodside, which has a 930,000 tonne/year liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Australia, Shell said.

“With Shell’s recent portfolio progress in Australia, our world-wide push to simplify the company and to improve our capital efficiency, we will increasingly focus our investment in Australia through direct interests in assets and joint ventures, rather than indirect stakes,” said Shell CEO Peter Voser in a statement.

“We will manage our remaining position in Woodside over time in the context of our global portfolio,” he added.

SEHAL has a commitment to hold the remaining stake in Woodside for at least a year, with limited exceptions, Shell said.

The exceptions included “a sale to a strategic third party of an interest greater than 3% in Woodside provided the purchaser agrees to be bound by the same escrow restrictions to which SEHAL is subject or in pursuit of an acceptance to a bona fide takeover offer for Woodside,” the company said.

Shell said it hoped to keep Woodside as a partner on growth projects, while it expands its directly-owned LNG assets in Australia.

“Shell’s directly-owned Australia LNG capacity is around 2.7m tonnes/year today, and is forecast to more than double to some 6.5m tonnes/year by 2015, as Gorgon comes on line,” said Shell Australia country chair Ann Pickard.

The oil and gas giant owns a quarter of the 15m tonne/year Gorgon LNG project.

“Our directly-owned assets in Australia could add a further 10m tonnes/year for Shell beyond 2015 towards a total of 16m tonnes/year,” said Pickard.

As of end-2009, Shell’s global LNG capacity was at 18.5m tonnes/year, with interests in seven LNG plants.

($1 = A$0.99)

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By: Pearl Bantillo
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