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Shell to sell Australian aviation fuels unit to Viva Energy

Shell to sell Australian aviation fuels unit to Viva Energy

by Angela Macdonald-Smith: 19 December 2016

Royal Dutch Shell has struck a $US250 million ($343 million) deal to sell its local aviation fuels division to Viva Energy in a further slimming down of its downstream operations in Australia.

The sale follows the oil giant’s $2.9 billion divestment of its other refining and fuels activities to Viva in 2014 and comes amid heightened speculation that Shell is getting set to offload its remaining stake in Woodside Petroleum.

The deal, expected to formally close by md-2017, will see the Shell brand still used for the aviation refuelling business under a licensing deal similar to the arrangement Viva has to use the logo for its petrol retailing business. Regulatory approvals still need to be secured.

Viva, owned by European commodity trader Vitol and Abu Dhabi interests, described Shell’s aviation fuels business as “highly complementary” to its existing business.

“We have been the exclusive supplier of jet fuel to Shell Aviation Australia over the past two years so this purchase enables us to expand into the airports and provide direct supply to customers which is very exciting for us,” said Viva chief executive Scott Wyatt.

Mr Wyatt said Viva sees plenty of opportunities to grow the aviation business by expanding supply to major airports and building out supply to smaller airfields. Viva expects to supply the new Badgerys Creek airport in Sydney, he added.

The news of the sale leaves bankers still hanging out for the expected final exit by Shell from the Woodside share register, a $3.5 billion deal now expected in late January at the earliest given the run-up to the Christmas quiet period.

Shell still owns 13.3 per cent of Woodside, but has made it clear it intends to exit completely as it re-classified the stake as non-strategic some time ago. The move is widely expected to be achieved through a block sale to investors.

In its statement on Monday, Shell noted that its upstream operations, which include its interest in the North West Shelf venture, its stake in Chevron’s Gorgon LNG project and its Prelude floating LNG venture, are unaffected by the sale.

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