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Shell has closed an underwriting agreement with a group of investment banks for the sale of its 8-percent interest in Canadian Natural Resources for about US$3.3 billion, the company said today.
The underwriters’ group includes Goldman Sachs, Scotiabank, RBC, and TD Securities, Shell also said.
The sale is part of a US$30-billion divestment program that Shell approved after its acquisition of BG Group that made it a leading player in natural gas but cost it more than US$50 billion and swelled its debt burden.
Over the first two years of its implementation, the three-year program has resulted in divestments of US$22.3 billion as of the end of 2017. As part of this program, Shell sold most of its oil sands assets, including most of its 60-percent stake in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project, which it sold to its partner Canadian Natural Resources.
The exit from the oil sands also fits in with Shell’s new, greener strategy for the future, with a focus on renewable energy and storage technology. As part of this shift into cleaner energy, Shell pledged to cut its carbon footprint by 50 percent by 2050 and allocated over US$1 billion in annual investments in renewable energy and electric vehicle charging until 2020.
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Yet this is not enough for some of its shareholders: a group of institutional Shell investors with assets under management totaling over US$30 billion (28 billion pounds) earlier this month pressed the company to implement stricter carbon emission limitation targets, in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Shell’s board believes that the shareholder resolution calling on the company to cut more emissions is unnecessary because of its commitment to a 50-percent cut in emissions. Yet the shareholders behind the resolution, led by a Dutch firm called Follow This, believe this target is not good enough.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.