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Shell train wreck in sight?

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 07.03.50TIME TO PUT ON THE HARD HATS?

Overall, Shell’s strategy now seems to involve stopping capex and unloading assets in something resembling a fire sale – perhaps to cover the losses in the US, perhaps because it sees a need to fight off a hostile takeover, or perhaps because of the potential liabilities if it is found to have been manipulating the oil price.

ARTICLE BY A SHELL RELATED SOURCE

John

The issue of the licence to operate the Corrib plant should be no more than a formality, but it seems that the EU has become involved in the matter. Giving approval to operate the plant prior to the environmental impact assessment is not very clever, as it implies that the EIA is a formality. On its own, this would be less significant but taken with the warning from the Norwegian government that Shell is in danger of being removed from their list of approved investments, the recent refusal by the UK government to agree to the planning approvals for Shell Centre, and the cancellation of the Chinese project suggests that something more serious is going on.
 
Of course it may be the potential liabilities associated with the EU price fixing investigation (and the EU has shown repeatedly that it is not beholden to Shell in the same way as the UK and Dutch governments) and it may also be the scale of the US shale gas and Arctic losses. The costs of these losses will fall partly on shareholders, but also to a large extent on the Dutch and UK  governments in the form of reduced tax receipts.
 
Shell (Voser) has admitted that its investments in unconventionals are not performing and will be sold – although Shell have acknowledged “impairments” of about $2bn this would represent less than 10% of the amount invested: it should be fairly obvious to anyone that after Voser’s comments a much larger loss should be anticipated. Added to the $5bn spent in Alaska, the losses are comparable in magnitude to BP’s losses on Macondo… The difference seems to be that the stock market (but presumably not sovereign wealth funds) does not realise that there is a train wreck coming, or is deluded by Shell’s maintenance of its share price by its continuous stock repurchases. Shell may actually have been operating at a loss for the past couple of years as a result of the Odum/Lawrence US projects.
 
Total has made no secret of its desire to break free from its franco-centric roots, and has announced that it will be moving some of its operations from Paris to London. Total also complained to the EU about the oil price issue, initiating the current investigation. Could a merger be on the horizon? Perhaps headquartered in London? There is space available! Normally any merger of this nature would involve disposal of some assets, and perhaps Corrib is now on the block along with the Nigerian assets – Chevron might also be interested, but with their ongoing problems in Ecuador and their own disposals in Nigeria, it should not be a surprise that they would not want to take on Shell’s Niger Delta assets.
 
Overall, Shell’s strategy now seems to involve stopping capex and unloading assets in something resembling a fire sale – perhaps to cover the losses in the US, perhaps because it sees a need to fight off a hostile takeover, or perhaps because of the potential liabilities if it is found to have been manipulating the oil price.
 
All of this is summed up quite well in the series of articles from the Daily Telegraph, together with your links at the end of the article. What a mess….

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