SHELL NEED $30 BLN
Royal Dutch Shell has confirmed it is reviewing the case for selling some of its North Sea assets in the wake of its £35bn takeover of rival oil and gas producer, BG Group.
Shell has said it plans to raise $30bn from asset sales worldwide as it moves to offset the cost of the BG acquisition, completed last month just weeks after oil prices plunged to a 13-year low near $27 a barrel.
But the company has yet to identify in public precisely which fields will be under scrutiny.
"A review of all assets, including those in the North Sea, is under way as part of our commitment to the $30bn asset sale," a Shell spokesman said on Sunday.
Shell has nearly 2,500 employees in the North Sea, where it has operated more than 33 offshore installations.
Ben van Beurden, the group's chief executive, said last month the global disposals would take place between 2016 and 2018 and he expected less than $10bn of asset sales to take place during 2016.
"The buyers are there," he said, naming other oil and gas companies and private equity groups as potential purchasers.
The Shell spokesman declined to confirm a Sunday Times report that potential North Sea asset buyers could include the Neptune oil and gas fund launched last year by Sam Laidlaw, the former chief executive of Centrica, owner of British Gas.
Neptune said that Shell's North Sea assets were among a number the group was "currently reviewing" along with others in north Africa and Asia.
Oil prices began sliding in the middle of 2014, sinking from about $115 a barrel to less than $60 a year ago. After dropping below $30 at the start of 2016, prices this month recovered to more than $40 a barrel.
But the industry is expected to continue struggling with a collapse that has led to billions of dollars of cost cuts, the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and widening concern about the sector's debt mountain.
Oil and Gas UK, an industry trade group, said last month that if oil prices stayed at around $30 for the rest of 2016, 43 per cent of all UK continental shelf oilfields were likely to be operating at a loss.
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