Royal Dutch Shell has announced plans to sell three oil and gas assets in the North Sea as the supermajor seeks to divest some $15 billion in assets.
Shell is planning to sell off its Anasuria, Nelson and Sean North Sea platforms, whose production represents around 2% of total oil production in the United Kingdom.
The North Sea sale plans follow Shell’s divestment of stakes in a Brazilian oil project and an Australian liquefied natural gas venture since the beginning of 2014.
The pending sale also comes amid growing uncertainty over developments in the North Sea. However, according to British media reports, Shell’s move to divest in the North Sea was in no way influenced by the scheduled 18 September referendum on Scottish independence, which could potentially harm the investment climate.
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Shell’s oil production declined by 5% in 2013 to 3.25 million barrels per day due to well shut-ins from security issues in Nigeria, as well as natural decline in many of its oil fields.
In October 2013, Shell announced it would begin selling off significant assets in 2014 and 2015 in order to reduce liabilities and improve cash flow.
The company’s new CEO, Ben van Beurden, who took over less than a month ago, began working together late last year with outgoing CEO Peter Vosser to put a concrete divestment plan together. Late last year, they announced the cancellation of a gas-to-liquids plant in the US. Shareholders were hopeful that it would be the beginning of a period of tighter spending and better cost control.
It is believed that Van Beurden will oversee a phase that focuses on capital discipline, higher returns, and divestment of non-essential assets.
Many of the large integrated oil companies are facing pressure from shareholders to reduce spending as costs of projects soar and as the price of oil is expected to fall.
By James Burgess of Oilprice.com