Shell divestment drive continues with the sale of its Canadian oil sands assets

Courtney Goldsmith
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Shell aims to divest $30bn in assets by late 2018 (Source: Getty)

Shell is progressing with its $30bn divestment plan quite nicely as it today agreed to sell most of its Canadian oil sands assets for $8.5bn (£7bn).

The Anglo-Dutch oil giant will sell its existing and undeveloped interests to Canadian Natural and cut its share in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project from 60 to 10 per cent.

"This significant divestment should help de-gear Shell's balance sheet over 2017 and help remove concerns around the dividend," Biraj Borkhataria of RBC Capital Markets said.

The Anglo-Dutch firm is working to cut debt following its $54bn acquisition of BG Group, and it has come under pressure by investors to mitigate risks associated with climate change.

The Canadian oil sands projects are costly and among the most carbon heavy.

This move falls in line with a new policy Shell revealed today: ten percent of directors' bonuses will now be tied to how well the firm manages greenhouse gas emissions in refining, chemical and upstream.

Read more: Shell's boss got a 60 per cent pay rise in 2016

Under a second agreement today, Shell said it is buying half of Marathon Oil Canada Corporation. That brings the deal's value to $7.25bn and Shell's divestment plan total to around $20bn.

The transactions are expected to close mid-2017 subject to regulatory approvals.

Shares in Shell were down 3.62 per cent at 2,145p in afternoon trading.

Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips and Statoil are among other oil firms to have written down or sold their Canadian oil sand assets.

In its annual report today, Shell said chief executive Ben van Beurden received a total pay package increase of 60 per cent, up to €8.263m, in 2016.

Read more: Saudi Aramco will pay Shell $2.2bn in joint venture split

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