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Shell: ‘No plans’ to sell North Sea assets

Shell has told BBC Scotland it has no more plans to sell assets

Oil giant Shell will not sell off any more North Sea assets.

A senior figure at the company has told BBC Scotland he has no plans to sell resources despite the chancellor announcing measures to make the process easier.

Shell has just completed the sale of a package of assets to the company Chrysaor for $3.8bn.

It included stakes in the Buzzard, Beryl, Elgin-Franklin and Schiehallion fields.

Director of Shell’s Upstream Commercial business, Steve Phimister, said he would now invest in what remains.

Strong core business

He said: “We have, in the last year, conducted quite a significant divestment of a package of assets. It’s been done very intentionally and very clearly with an intention to focus on our core business.

“So, we today have a good strong core piece of business. It’s about 150,000 barrels a day so still a very significant producer in the basin.

“And that is the portfolio we will take forward and intend to invest in in the coming years.”

Following a campaign from the industry, Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced changes in decommissioning relief to make it easier for smaller operators to invest in older assets.

Although it will take a year to implement, the hope is that it will stimulate investment and prolong the expected life of the North Sea.

Mr Phimister said: “I think it’s going to help the basin immensely.

“I think there are still assets that may not attract investment from certain companies who may not want to hold them for the long term and want to move them on.

“I now have the portfolio today in the UK that we set out to achieve at the beginning of the year and that’s the one I intend to invest in.”

Abandoned platforms

Shell’s most iconic field, Brent, is currently going through the process of decommissioning. It lent its name to the benchmark of North Sea oil, Brent Crude.

Some environmental groups have objected to their plans to leave some of the legs from abandoned platforms in the sea to collapse.

The company said it is has listened to the concerns raised and that “it is possible to have derogations” from the original plan.

Shell’s 1,500 strong workforce will be pleased to hear reassurances about its future in the North Sea after the recent downturn.

Since the oil price crashed about 700 jobs have been lost in Aberdeen and the North Sea.

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