Tue, Feb 12, 2008 - Page 11 News List

Woodside to purchase Shell stake in North West Shelf


Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd said yesterday it has agreed to buy Royal Dutch Shell PLC's oil assets in Australia's North West Shelf for US$398.5 million.

The deal would double Woodside's share of the oil output from the North West Shelf project, including the Cossack Pioneer field, which produces 80,000 barrels of oil a day.

Woodside chief executive Don Voelte said the acquisition would boost the company's cash flow and earnings.

"The North West Shelf has laid a sound business platform for Woodside over two decades and we are very pleased that this transaction will further consolidate our position in the North West Shelf ventures," Voelte said in statement.

Woodside is the operator of the A$20 billion (US$17.9 billion) North West Shelf joint venture and has an equal stake with partners Chevron Corp, BHP Billiton Ltd, Royal Dutch Shell and Japan Australia LNG.

The North West Shelf venture accounts for more than 40 percent of the country's oil and gas production and is a major producer of liquefied natural gas, natural gas, liquid petroleum gas and crude oil.

For Shell, the disposal of its North West Shelf oil assets frees it up to focus on its Australian natural gas business, which includes the giant Gorgon gas field off the Western Australian coast that recently won federal approval.

In a related agreement, Shell would have a "right of final offer" for Woodside's assets in Libya should Woodside agree to proceed with a sale, Woodside said.

Woodside has previously said it was examining its options for its remaining African assets, including selling them.

Shell's North West Shelf oil assets include its share in the Cossack, Wanaea, Lambert and Hermes oil fields.

The sale would increase Woodside's participating interest in these assets to 33.3 percent.

The agreement covers estimated proved and probable reserves of 21.3 million barrels of oil equivalent and an additional 9.3 million barrels of contingent resources.

The North West Shelf oil asset transfer is subject to standard regulatory and joint venture participant approvals.

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