Buying BG Gives Shell Solution to Stranded Australian Gas Assets

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Royal Dutch Shell Plc is seeking an outlet for its natural gas reserves in Australia’s Queensland state. Its $70 billion purchase of BG Group Plc provides a solution.

Shell and its partner PetroChina Co. have been looking at alternatives for their Arrow gas project after shelving plans to build an export terminal this year due to cost blowouts and slumping energy prices. Arrow is in the same state as plants run by Santos Ltd. and ConocoPhillips -- as well as BG’s $20 billion Queensland Curtis LNG development.

“The Arrow assets are stranded at the moment, so it’s highly probable that if Shell’s purchase of BG went through, that gas would be monetized through QCLNG,” Neil Beveridge, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in Hong Kong, said Wednesday before the agreement was announced. “That’s definitely a source of value for this deal.”

The combined company will have double the market value of BP Plc. The deal would also streamline the energy industry in Australia, on course to become the world’s biggest liquefied natural gas exporter later this decade, and may spur other acquisitions in the sector.

The accord to purchase BG for about 47 billion pounds ($70 billion) has other implications in Australia, where investors see potential for further acquisitions.

Santos, Oil Search Ltd. and Beach Energy Ltd. rose today in Sydney trading partly on speculation that they’re potential targets, said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG Ltd. in Melbourne.

Shortfall

In Queensland LNG, the projects face a potential shortfall in feedstock of as much as 30 percent over the next two decades, according to Credit Suisse Group AG. Linking Arrow to Curtis Island would help fix the problem.

Shell in 2013 delayed a decision to go ahead with Arrow due to cost inflation in Australia. The company said in January that a new export plant was “off the table.”

The Shell-BG merger, which would combine Europe’s largest oil explorer by market value with the No. 3 U.K.-based energy producer, will be the industry’s biggest in at least a decade, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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