LONDON–Energy giant Royal Dutch Shell announced on Monday the sale of stakes in Australian natural gas assets for more than one billion U.S. dollars to a Kuwaiti state company. Shell said it had agreed to sell its 8-percent equity interest in the Wheatstone-Iago gas field and 6.4-percent interest in the Wheatstone liquefied natural gas project for US$1.135 billion to the Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company. Despite the sales, “Shell will remain a major player in Australia’s energy industry,” Shell’s new chief executive officer Ben van Beurden said in a statement. “However, we are refocusing our investment to where we can add the most value with Shell’s capital and technology. We are making hard choices in our world-wide portfolio to improve Shell’s capital efficiency,” he added. The announcement comes just a few days after the Anglo-Dutch group issued a profits warning. The London-listed company had warned on Friday that its fourth-quarter earnings were set to be “significantly lower than recent levels of profitability.”
Profit on a current cost of supplies (CCS) basis — which strips out changes to the value of oil and gas inventories — was set to plunge 70 percent to about US$2.2 billion in the three months to December compared with the fourth quarter of 2012, Shell had said. The news marked a downbeat start for Beurden — the Dutch national who replaced Peter Voser on Jan. 1.