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Shell Oil Products Africa announced recently that it was reviewing ownership options for its downstream businesses in 21 countries in Africa, Downstream reported.

While a number of options are being considered, the preferred outcome is the sale of most businesses in scope as going concerns, subject to successful negotiations, and any necessary regulatory and final company approvals.

Shell's fuels, lubricants and refining activities in South Africa are not affected by the review. The company's exploration and production businesses, liquefied natural gas interests and most international trading activities in Africa are also out of scope.

Commenting on the announcement, Xavier le Mintier, Executive Vice- President, Shell Oil Products Africa, said: 'This decision is part of our drive to refocus our global downstream footprint into fewer, larger markets. The businesses under review in Africa are profitable and professionally run. They have strong positions in their respective markets and offer ample scope for growth to owners willing to invest in them. Early indications suggest there are a number of potential buyers interested in acquiring the businesses as going concerns and we will now enter into a round of negotiations, with a view to securing the optimum outcome for our shareholders, customers and staff.'

Adding his comments, Royal Dutch Shell's Downstream Director, Mark Williams, said, 'The review is consistent with our strategy to concentrate our global downstream footprint and follows a number of similar reviews and divestments in other parts of the world.

'Shell's programme of downstream asset sales will continue through planned exits from 15 per cent of our worldwide refining capacity and 35 per cent of our current retail markets, which equates to about five per cent of Shell-branded retail sites around the world.'

The scope of the review is Shell's downstream businesses (Retail, Commercial Fuels, Lubricants, liquefied petroleum gas, Bitumen, Aviation and Marine) in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Cape Verde, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Madagascar, Mauritius and La Reunion and the LPG business in South Africa (all other downstream businesses in South Africa are not in scope). Shell's lubricants' business in Egypt is out of scope. An option to appoint third-party distributors for Shell-branded lubricants in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Ghana is included in the review.