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Reuters: UPDATE 1-Royal Dutch Shell rises on tie-up talk – traders (*Shell-BP merger?)

*Shell shares up by 4% on speculation of Shell/BP or Shell/Gazprom tie-up 

Thu May 17, 2007 5:29 PM BST

(Recasts, adds analyst on research note)

LONDON, May 17 (Reuters) – Shares in oil giant Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile , Research) rose more than 4 percent before closing at their highest level in six months on Thursday as traders cited rumours of a possible tie-up with a rival.

“There’s a mutter of a BP/Royal Dutch tie-up,” said one trader.

Other traders also noted the BP rumour while one analyst reported talk of a tie-up with Russia’s Gazprom (GAZP.MM: Quote, Profile , Research), which the analyst said may have stemmed from a research report from Shell’s house broker ABN AMRO.

Shell and BP representatives declined to comment. ABN could not immediately confirm the report.

Shares in BP (BP.L: Quote, Profile , Research) closed 2.4 percent up at 570-1/2 pence while other oil stocks also gained thanks to a rise in oil prices. The DJ Stoxx European oil and gas sector index < .SXEP> was up 2 percent.

One analyst said Shell shares were also likely supported by comments from a spokesman that the Anglo-Dutch oil giant had started work to restore 170,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil production in Nigeria, after a protest at a major pipeline hub hit output.

While industry sources said BP’s former CEO had considered a tie-up with Shell a few years ago, BP sources said new CEO Tony Hayward planned to focus on fixing BP’s operational issues rather than big strategic actions in the coming months. (Reporting by Rebekah Curtis, Sophie Hares, Alex Lawler and Tom Bergin)

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved. 

*Comment added by ShellNews.net

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