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Shell’s Ann Pickard in for Arrow Energy

The Australian

Matt Chambers
Thursday March 11, 2010 12:00AM

ROYAL Dutch Shell will this month fly its new head of Australian production and exploration, Ann Pickard, into the centre of its $3.3 billion joint bid for Arrow Energy.

The appointment of Ms Pickard — head of Shell’s operations in the restive Nigerian delta oilfields and the rest of Africa for the past five years — is seen as a sign of Australia’s growing importance to Shell, which is planning big liquefied natural gas projects on the east and west coasts.

Shell has interests in the Gorgon, Browse, Prelude and Sunrise projects on the west coast and the Curtis Island LNG plant on the east coast. Ms Pickard is due to start in Australia at the end of the month.

Shell would not say whether its partnership with PetroChina to jointly acquire Arrow had influenced Ms Pickard’s start date.

There was no word from Arrow or Shell yesterday on the cash bid. Arrow is still deciding whether to dump its proposed purchase of LNG Ltd’s Fisherman’s Landing LNG project in Gladstone in favour of Shell and PetroChina’s $4.45 a share offer for its Australian assets. Arrow shares rose 1c to $5.03 yesterday.

The premium to the offer reflects the 50c to 75c at which analysts value Arrow’s international coal seam gas ground.

Ms Pickard’s previous posting in Lagos, Nigeria, has been described as the most dangerous executive job in global oil.

Last year, she was named the world’s 25th most powerful businesswoman by Forbes.

Ms Pickard will be a headline speaker at this year’s Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference in Brisbane in May.

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