Royal Dutch Shell Plc sold two natural gas assets in Wyoming and Louisiana for $2.1 billion plus shale acreage in Pennsylvania, continuing a $15 billion divestiture plan.
Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, sold its Pinedale acreage in Wyoming to Ultra Petroleum Corp. for $925 million and 155,000 acres in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus and Utica shales, the Hague-based company said in a statement today. In a second deal, Vine Oil & Gas LP and its partner Blackstone Group LP will buy Shell’s properties in the Haynesville area of Louisiana for $1.2 billion.
Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben Van Beurden, who took over from Peter Voser at the start of the year, is accelerating disposals to win investor support. He returned Shell’s operations to profit in the Americas this year, where the company has about $61 billion deployed in onshore tight and shale gas and oil projects.
“Perhaps the most surprising feature of the recovery in Shell’s earnings has been the performance of the North American business – a cause of much consternation 12 months ago,” Lydia Rainforth, a London-based analyst at Barclays Plc, wrote in a report today before Shell announced the sale.
Van Beurden has already completed about $8 billion in asset sales this year after announcing plans to dispose of about $15 billion through 2015. Rex Energy Corp.’s $120 million shale acquisition from Shell this week was the latest in a series of deals since the Anglo-Dutch company started divesting North America acreage last year.
“We continue to restructure and focus our North America shale oil and gas portfolio,” Marvin Odum, Shell’s Upstream Americas Director, said in the statement. “We are adding highly attractive exploration acreage, where we have impressive well results in the Utica, and divesting our more mature, Pinedale and Haynesville dry gas positions.”
Evercore Partners Inc. and Kirkland & Ellis LLP advised Blackstone and Vine on the transaction, Vine said in a statement.