Shell Bids Adieu to Gabon
In a move that’s been rumored for at least the past two months, Royal Dutch Shell last week completed an exit strategy in the West African nation of Gabon by selling its oil and gas assets within the country. The buyer of those assets is Assala Energy, which is a subsidiary of the Carlyle Group, the world’s largest private equity organization.
The sale price was listed as $587 million, which was approximately 16 percent less than the estimated price when rumors began surging at the start of 2017. Nearly half of the sale price, $285 million is debt that Royal Dutch Shell has incurred, with additional payments possible, depending on whether or not production picks up and the price of a barrel rises to pre-2014 levels.
The sale continues the company’s stated goal to sell $30 billion of assets in order to reduce the debt from purchasing the BG Group last year. That company is focused on liquefied natural gas (LNG), an area that Royal Dutch Shell offers greater growth than traditional oil.
One of the other unspoken motivations was the continuing trouble of operating within the country. When sale rumors began emerging, workers at the nine oil fields that were part of purchase rebelled, as did those workers at pipelines across the country. In addition, Gabon’s controversial government has been the focal point of protests, making continued operation in the country more trouble than it was worth.
The sale ends 55 years of operation by Shell in Gabon and is another sign of the reluctance to deal with havoc that comes with oil interests within the continent of Africa. Nigeria is another country that’s become a headache, with litigation and vandalism becoming a continuing problem. In 2014, some Nigerian assets were sold by Shell.