Shell sells Australian refinery, petrol stations to Vitol for $2.6 billion

Thu Feb 20, 2014 7:48pm EST
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By Byron Kaye

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Anglo Dutch oil company Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote) said on Friday it has agreed to sell its Australian downstream businesses to oil trader Vitol SA VITOLV.UL for about A$2.9 billion ($2.6 billion).

The sale covers Shell's Geelong refinery and 870 service stations plus its bulk fuels, bitumen and chemicals businesses and part of its lubricants businesses in Australia.

A Vitol spokeswoman confirmed to Reuters that the Abu Dhabi Investment Council sovereign fund was part of the group which bought the assets.

Shell, attempting to win round investors after a major profit warning early this year, said in January it was targeting $15 billion of disposals over the next two years as it tries to deliver more attractive returns to shareholders.

Big oil companies like Shell have also been balking at spending to upgrade expensive, loss-making Australian refineries amid higher global oil prices and a drop in Australian crude output, as well as rising labor and financing costs due to a strong local dollar.

"Australia remains important to Shell but we are making tough portfolio choices to improve the company's overall competitiveness," Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said in a statement.

Shell has already sold downstream assets including refineries in the UK, Germany, France, Norway and the Czech Republic and downstream businesses in Egypt, Spain, Greece, Finland and Sweden.


A Shell sign is seen at a petrol station in Melbourne March 8, 2010. REUTERS/Mick Tsikas