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Shell to Sell Zimbabwe Petroleum Assets to Petronas (Update1)

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Shell to Sell Zimbabwe Petroleum Assets to Petronas (Update1) 

By Carli Lourens

July 10 (Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s biggest oil producer, will sell all its petroleum assets in Zimbabwe after President Robert Mugabe was reappointed last month in a disputed election following a decade of recession.

“It coincides with the political debate but that’s not the background,” Spokesman Rainer Winzenried said by phone from the Hague today. Shell is reviewing refining and marketing businesses worldwide to “see whether they are profitable enough to meet our expectations,” he said.

Anglo American Plc, Rio Tinto Group, Standard Chartered Plc and Barclays Plc are among companies still operating in the country after African observers said a June 27 vote that extended Mugabe’s 28-year rule wasn’t free or fair.Central African Mining & Exploration Plc agreed to buy platinum reserves in a deal that included a $100 million loan to the government.

Shell’s assets, including half of a venture with BP Plc that sells 172 million liters (45 million gallons) of fuel a year, 20.73 percent of an unoperational refinery and 226 fuel stations, will be sold to a unit of Petroliam Nasional Bhd., Malaysia’s state oil company, Winzenried said. BP has first rights to buy Shell’s stake in the venture.

Zimbabwe “still has good infrastructure which we believe will form the basis of renewed economic growth once the current political situation is resolved,”Rashid Yusof, chief executive officer of Petroliam Nasional’s Cape Town-based unit Engen Petroleum Ltd., said today in an e-mailed statement. The Malaysian company is also known as Petronas.

Mugabe stood as the only candidate in the June presidential runoff election afterMorgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, withdrew from the race because of violent attacks on his supporters. The Zimbabwe president’s policies have contributed to the world’s highest inflation rate of at least 350,000 percent.

To contact the reporters on this story: Carli Lourens in Johannesburg at[email protected]

Last Updated: July 10, 2008 12:04 EDT

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