Shell Inks $2.5 Billion Australian LNG Stake Sale to GIP

Royal Dutch Shell Plc agreed to sell a minority stake at a liquefied natural gas export project in Australia to Global Infrastructure Partners for $2.5 billion.

The oil major will sell a 26.25% interest in the Queensland Curtis LNG Common Facilities in a deal that is expected to be completed in the first half of 2021, the company said a statement on Monday. The common facilities are currently completely owned by Shell and include LNG storage tanks, jetties and infrastructure that service the venture.

The deal comes as the oil giant targets annual divestment of $4 billion in a bid to shore up its balance sheets. Reducing its net debt will help Shell meet its pledge to boost dividends, which it cut earlier in the year for the first time since the Second World War.

Shell will remain the majority owner and operator of the LNG export plant, one of Australia’s biggest. China’s CNOOC Ltd. has a 50% equity stake in one of the plant’s production trains, while Tokyo Gas Co. holds a 2.5% equity in another one, according to Shell’s website.

“This decision is consistent with Shell’s strategy of selling non-core assets in order to further high-grade and simplify Shell’s portfolio,” Shell said in the statement.

It also comes after the Australian government has touted the gas industry as a key engine for nationwide growth out of this year’s recession, even as energy prices have fallen and other major projects have been beset by holdups.

GIP is an infrastructure-focused fund manager with $71 billion in assets, according to its website. It led a consortium comprising five other investment funds in a purchase of a $10 billion stake in Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.’s natural gas pipelines in June.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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