Shell CEO says Brexit could slow $30b asset sale plan

Shell CEO says Brexit could slow $30b asset sale plan

Shell’s (LSE:RDSB) CEO, Ben van Beurden, has announced that Britain’s decision to exit the European Union could slow its US$30 billion asset sale plan, especially in the North Sea.

The comment was made during an investor and analyst event at the Wimbledon tennis tournament this week. Shell recently mandated Bank of America Merrill Lynch to find buyers for several key assets in the North Sea, including its stake in the Buzzard oilfield, hoping the sale would rise to least $2 billion.

The oil firm had previously targeted completing the disposal of dozens of assets around the world by roughly 2018 to help finance its $54 billion acquisition of rival BG, which it finished in February.

Van Beurden said the uncertainty that has engulfed global markets following Britain’s Brexit vote on 23 June was set to be an obstacle for the programme. He added that Brexit “will make it more difficult to execute disposals”, particularly in the North Sea.

A Shell spokesman said in response that “there has been no change to the previous statements we made on the three-year, $30 billion divestment programme.”

Shell said in June it wanted to exit 10 countries after merging with BG to sharpen its focus on gas production globally and deepwater exploration in Brazil.

Assets in the North Sea have seen production falling since the late 1990’s and have been seen as particularly difficult following the drop of oil prices over the past two years.