Shell to Sell Norwegian Downstream Assets to Meet Spending Goal

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s biggest oil company, is looking to sell its gas stations and other so-called downstream assets in Norway to help meet the company’s investment target for the next two years.

Shell wants to sell its retail and distribution networks, aviation and commercial fuel and bitumen units including 180 gasoline stations directly owned by the company, 27 truck facilities and nine fuel depots, spokeswoman Lillian Aasheim said today, confirming a report by Stavanger Aftenblad.

“It’s a good strategic choice,” she said by phone. Shell wishes to concentrate its downstream business where it can “be profitable and grow, which is in other countries than Norway.”

Shell is preparing to sell about $15 billion of assets to help meet a net-capital-expenditure goal of $130 billion from 2012 to 2015. Net spending will drop “considerably” in 2014 from last year’s record $45 billion, Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser has said. Earnings from refining and marketing declined almost by half to $892 million in the third quarter.

Shell, based in The Hague, plans to sell A$3 billion ($2.7 billion) of Australian downstream assets including 900 filling stations. Vitol Group, the largest independent oil trader, is considering a bid, people with knowledge of the matter said last week.

Aasheim declined to comment on expected proceeds from the Norway sales. The company doesn’t plan to sell any assets from its upstream production business in the country, she said.

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