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Bloomberg: Shell Buys Three Exploration Permits Off Australia (Update1)

By Angela Macdonald-Smith

Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, acquired three exploration permits off Australia’s northwest coast as it seeks more natural gas resources for export into Asia.

Shell bought the permits, located in the south Exmouth Basin, from Octanex NL and Strata Resources NL, members of the Albers Group of Companies, Shell’s Australian unit said today in an e- mailed statement. It didn’t disclose terms.

The Hague-based company, a partner in Chevron Corp.’s Gorgon liquefied natural gas venture, is boosting exploration for gas in Australia to meet growing demand for the fuel in Asian countries including Japan, South Korea and China. The permits lie to the west and southwest of the producing Enfield and Stybarrow petroleum fields.

“Shell is committed to growing its portfolio in Australia through exploration for more integrated gas,” Chris Gunner, chief operating officer of Shell Development (Australia) Pty, said in the statement. “By 2015, Asia-Pacific is predicted to represent about 50 percent of global LNG demand and we see Australia as well-placed to supply LNG into this expanding market.”

Shell plans to start seismic work in the permits in 2008-09, which will determine drilling plans, said Anita Harben, a Shell spokeswoman in Perth. The purchase is subject to government approvals.

In the last 24 months Shell has acquired nine new permit licenses off northwest Australia, invested in two exploration ventures, and acquired rights to gas from the Crux field nearby as part of its gas expansion in the region.

To contact the reporter on this story: Angela Macdonald-Smith in Sydney at [email protected]

Last Updated: February 20, 2008 23:46 EST

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