The companies will jointly bid for Brisbane-based Arrow Energy, which holds the largest fuel reserves in Australia.
Shell already owns 30 per cent of Arrow’s assets after snapping them up in a deal two years ago.
The takeover would give the oil giants control of 37 per cent of the country’s coal seam gas reserves. Arrow owns more than 65,000 square kilometres of coal deposits in the Queensland region. The resources are expected to be highly profitable as concerns mount over future energy supplies to the rapidly growing Chinese and East Asian economies.
In preparation for the deal, Ann Pickard is expected to take over as the company’s top executive in Australia, where she will oversee the firm’s liquefied natural gas business. Her new position, which she will start in March, will be executive vice president leading oil and gas exploration and production. She will be based in Perth. She previously headed up operations in Africa, where she was based in Lagos, Nigeria.
Shell currently employs around 2,500 people in Australia.