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Shell not ‘desperate’ to grow US shale despite Anadarko sale: CFO

London — Shell is keen to grow its US shale oil portfolio but does not feel pressured to chase new acquisitions, as Occidental and Chevron battle for control of Anadarko’s Permian-rich upstream assets, Shell Chief Financial Officer Jessica Uhl said Thursday.

Shell doesn’t “need” to do a US shale deal as it already has a strong US portfolio of shale and tight oil, which has further room for volume growth, Uhl said.

“We have significant growth capacity in our existing position and, in that sense, we are not desperate. We don’t need to find new shale exposure … but we like the business,” Uhl told analysts on an earnings call.

In January, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said the company’s portfolio in the prolific Permian shale basin was “a bit small,” fueling to speculation about an acquisition there.

“If there is one thing that is wrong with our Permian portfolio it is that it is a bit small … we will look at opportunities to grow in a very disciplined way,” van Beurden told reporters during an earnings presentation. “We have been looking at lots of opportunities in the past and we will continue to do that going forward.”

Van Beurden said Shell is also keen to integrate vertically in the Permian adding trading and optimization capability to take advantage of dislocations in US gas, oil and NGL prices.

The ongoing bidding battle for US independent Anadarko Petroleum between Chevron and Occidental has sparked speculation of a new round of acquisitions in the industry to bulk up Permian shale positions.

Uhl said any US shale acquisition would need to fit within Shell’s strict capital expenditure target of between $25 billion and $30 billion this year, a figure which includes any acquisitions.

Shell is allocating between $2 billion and $3 billion of capital every year to the shale business, of which half is being directed at its position in the Permian basin.

Shell has said it plans to boost its Permian Basin output by 2020 to 200,000 b/d of oil equivalent, with just one-third of production being crude and the rest lower-value gas and gas liquids.

— Robert Perkins, [email protected]

— Edited by Derek Sands, [email protected]

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