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Royal Dutch Shell makes deeper cuts

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By Daniel J. Graeber: Dec. 23, 2015

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Dec. 23 (UPI) — With the company expecting improved efficiency after merging with BG Group, Royal Dutch Shell said it plans to cut spending for next year more than expected.

Shell published a prospectus and circular related to its $7 billion tie-up with BG Group, one of the largest mergers of its kind since Exxon and Mobil joined in the 1990s.

“The combination with BG is a strong platform to refocus the company, to create a simpler and more competitive Shell,” Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said in a statement. “At the same time, Shell is pulling multiple levers to manage through the current oil price downturn.”

Crude oil prices are trading at or near low levels not seen in a decade. Shell said the merger would result in staffing redundancies next year, which would lead to a reduction of around 2,800 jobs across its global footprint.

For the combined group, Shell in its prospectus said capital investments for next year would be around $33 billion, $2 billion, or 5.7 percent, lower than previously forecast.

When reporting financial results earlier this year, both companies said the weakness in energy markets should last at least through the middle of 2016. Shell said it would be at or near the break-even point after the merger if Brent crude oil is priced near $60 for next year, about 62 percent higher than the current level.

Shell through the deal takes a strong position in the liquefied natural gas sector, a sector less dependent on the geopolitical constraints in the midstream, or transit, part of energy. Economic and political disputes between Russia and Ukraine, for example, pose threats to European energy security.

“The combination with BG represents a tremendous opportunity to create value for both sets of shareholders, particularly in deep water and LNG,” van Beurden said. “The combination with BG is a strong platform to refocus the company, to create a simpler and more competitive Shell.”

Shareholders from both companies meet at the end of January to consider the merger.

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