Shell is set to sell its onshore Gabon assets to a Carlyle Group-backed firm for $587m

Courtney Goldsmith
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Shell is flogging assets left and right to meet its $30bn divestment target (Source: Getty)

Shell has agreed to sell its onshore assets in Gabon for $587m (£470m) to a firm backed by private equity giant Carlyle Group as it pushes on with its divestment drive.

Carlyle-backed Assala Energy will take control of all of Shell's onshore oil and gas operations and related infrastructure in the African country, which produced around 41,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) last year.

Around 430 local Shell employees will also become part of Assala once the deal is completed.

Assala, which is led by former Tullow Oil exec David Roux, will assume debt of $285m and will make additional payments of up to $150m depending on production performance and oil prices. Shell will book an impairment charge of $53m after tax, which will be taken in the first quarter of 2017.

Shell has worked in Gabon for the past 55 years, and Andy Brown, Shell's upstream director, said the decision to divest "was not taken lightly". The deal falls in line with Shell's plan to ditch $30bn worth of assets following the acquisition of BG Group last year.

"Shell will continue to pursue opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa," Brown added.

Private equity investors are making a habit out of snapping up mature oil and gas fields from large, divestment-focused energy groups.

Carlyle, the world's largest private equity fund, will take capital from Carlyle International Energy Partners, a $2.5bn fund that invests in global oil and gas exploration and production, and the $698m Carlyle Sub-Saharan Africa Fund.

The deal is expected to close mid-2017.

Read more: Shell flogs its Canadian oil sands assets in divestment drive

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