Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS.A) is expected to announce the sale of three of its assets in the North Sea as part of its plan to divest $15 billion before 2016.
The oil major’s executives briefed staff about the sale of the Anasuria, Nelson and Sean assets this week, and the company is expected to announce the sale shortly, The Telegraph reported Thursday.
Shell has operated in the North Sea region for 50 years, but is now focusing on stregthening is porfolio with new investments and drilling.
“These changes are very much in line with our strategy and will allow us to focus on where we can add value to ensure a long- term future for Shell in the basin,” Glen Cayley, vice president of upstream Shell U.K. and Ireland aid, said in a statement. “We are talking to staff about the proposal to sell the assets in order to be as open as possible, whilst confirming our commitment to the North Sea.”
The North Sea sales would be the latest in a string of asset sales intended to, along with reduced capital spending, improve the company’s profit margins. The Anglo-Dutch company’s new chief executive, Ben van Beurden, announced in late January with weak fourth-quarter and full-year results that Shell would speed up asset sales in the next two years and end its Alaskan exploration program, after pouring more than $5 billion into the project with no returns. In January, Shell sold stakes in a Brazilian oil project and an Australian liquefied natural gas project.
The North Sea sales also point to continued uncertainty for drilling in the region. Crude output in the region fell to its lowest in 2013 since 1977. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said in a report released Wednesday that crude output from the North Sea region will likely fall further in 2014, to an average of 800,000 barrels a day, a decrease of 70,000 barrels a day from 2013.
In Shell’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2013 results presentation, the company showed a map of some of the upstream and downstream assets it planned to sell, including properties at Niobrara Sandwash Basin in Colorado, Eagle Ford in Texas, wells in Utica, Ohio, and the Mississippi Lime in Kansas and leases in Nigeria. The map didn’t include any North Sea properties.
Anasuria is a manned floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) installation located 115 miles east of Aberdeen. It produces gas and oil from four fields. Nelson also produces and exports gas and oil and is located 124 miles north-east of Aberdeen. Sean is a manned, two bridge-linked platform, a wellhead platform and a production platform located in the southern North Sea 68 miles north-east of Lowestoft. It produces and exports gas.