Africa Gas Rush Imperils $100 Billion in Australian LNG
Comment of the Day

August 30 2012

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Africa Gas Rush Imperils $100 Billion in Australian LNG

This article by Eduard Gismatullin and James Paton for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:
Shell, which plans to invest $30 billion in Australia over the next five years, is looking at opportunities in Africa. The Hague-based company has drilled in Tanzania and last month dropped its $1.8 billion bid for Cove Energy Plc, a U.K. explorer with assets in Mozambique, because Thailand's state oil company made a higher offer. The decisions to walk away was described by the Anglo-Dutch company's CEO Peter Voser as an example of capital discipline.”

“The bid for Cove highlighted the potential need to rotate exposure from Australian LNG projects to the new East Africa frontier,” RBC's Hutton said. “We believe Shell was right to withdraw, but the shift in portfolio still needs to be addressed.”

Shell spokesman Jonathan French referred Bloomberg News to Voser's comments made July 26 when the CEO described East Africa as “an interesting province” and “a big resource.”

Total, based in Paris, has increased its stake in the $34 billion Ichthys LNG project in northern Australia, where costs may beat Pluto's record, according to the Australian Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics.

Eoin Treacy's view Natural gas is truly a game changer for the global economy, not least because it is both abundant and cleaner than oil. The fact that unconventional supplies continue to increase the global resource base further emphasises the role of the commodity in the energy mix.

BG Group, Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil all produce more gas than oil and are at the forefront of this sector globally. The challenge for such companies is to control costs in an environment which is unlikely to be bullish for pricing over the long term. Their success as investments will depend on how well they succeed in this aspect. It is for this reason that Shell's decision not to pay up for access to East African offshore resources is notable.

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