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Royal Dutch Shell is changing, CEO says

By Daniel J. Graeber: Feb. 2, 2017

(UPI) — Royal Dutch Shell continues to focus on an aggressive divestment strategy after cutting $15 billion from its books last year, its CEO said Thursday.

“We are gaining momentum on divestments, with some $15 billion completed in 2016, announced, or in progress, and we are on track to complete our overall $30 billion divestment program as planned,” CEO Ben van Beurden said in a statement.

The Dutch supermajor, trimmed down after a merger last year with British energy company BG Group, reported an 8 percent decline in profit last year for one of its weakest performances in more than a decade.

In the fourth quarter alone, the company unloaded more than $1 billion in assets in large part from North America. In January, it sold off its interests in a package of assets in the British waters of the North Sea for $3.8 billion.

Van Beurden said the effort was on “reshaping” the company in order to deliver cash flow in the first quarter of 2017.

“Meanwhile we are operating the company at an underlying cost level that is $10 billion lower than Shell and BG combined only 24 months ago,” he said.

Shell said it was leaving oil and gas operations in as many as 10 countries, while focusing more heavily on gas-rich Australia and shale opportunities in the United States. The CEO said production and volumes of liquefied natural gas would increase for the year.

As much as $25 billion in “high quality” investments are on tap for the year.

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