Shell Offer for Cove Expires as Higher PTT Bid Stands

Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s offer for Cove Energy Plc expired as Europe’s largest oil company had yet to match a higher bid from PTT Exploration & Production Pcl.

The Bangkok-based energy company raised its bid on May 23 to 240 pence a share, valuing Cove at 1.22 billion pounds ($1.9 billion). The next day, Shell extended its offer of 220 pence a share until 1 p.m today.

Shell has until 8 a.m. tomorrow to announce the level of acceptances it has received on its offer and decide whether to extend its bid, according to U.K. takeover rules.

Cove fell 0.3 percent to 264 pence in London today.

Cove’s largest asset is a 8.5 percent holding in Mozambique’s Rovuma Area 1, where a group led by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. has found as much as 60 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, or more than six times the U.K.’s existing reserves. Cove increased its estimate of the find two days ago, and Mozambique approved PTT’s bid last month.

Shell Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser said June 5 that his company had “no answer” on another potential bid for Cove.

Shell spokesman Jonathan French declined to comment today.

The discoveries open the way for Mozambique to become an exporter of liquefied natural gas, shipping fuel to Asian economies including India and China. For state-controlled PTT, the purchase of Cove offers Thailand a secure source of gas.