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THE HERALD (SCOTLAND): Oil giant to offload cluster of fields in the North Sea: “The sale… is in line with the Royal Dutch/Shell Group's strategy expected to deliver some $12bn (£6.3bn) to $15bn from sales and swaps up to 2006.” ( 21 April 05


GRAEME SMITH April 21 2005


SHELL UK is putting up for sale its Auk, Fulmar and Dunlin fields, which provide employment for about 470 staff.


Shell announced yesterday that along with Esso Exploration and Production UK, an ExxonMobil subsidiary, they would "market" their interests in the cluster 155 miles east-south-east of Aberdeen The announcement was followed by an appeal from the OILC offshore union for Shell to act swiftly to alleviate the fears of the workforce to allow them to concentrate on their jobs.


The sale includes acreage, production and infrastructure and is in line with the Royal Dutch/Shell Group's strategy expected to deliver some $12bn (£6.3bn) to $15bn from sales and swaps up to 2006.


Kieron McFadyen, technical director for Shell Exploration and Production in Europe, said: "Active management of our asset portfolio is a key part of Shell's strategy in the North Sea. These assets could create opportunities for other companies to fulfil their growth ambitions in the industry while maintaining hydrocarbon production and employment for the UK. Shell remains committed to the North Sea as a core business area where we continue to make significant investment – around $6bn to $7bn across our European operations between 2005 and 2007." "We are investigating if there are people out there in the market who can help us maximise the potential of these remaining resources. "We hope by the end of the summer we have enough feedback from the market to allow us to understand the best options for maximising the remaining potential of these assets so we are able to make a decision."


Jake Molloy, of the OILC, said he had no doubt the assets would be sold. "What we do have, because of Shell's approach here, is the opportunity to try to put pressure on Shell that, as part of any contract of sale, staff levels and those staff in those positions are maintained and the terms and conditions of those staff are retained. "All too often in the past jobs and conditions are lost. It happened with one of Shell's installations in the past two years, the Kittiwake. They sold that asset to a new operator, Venture, who outsourced it to a contractor, Petrofac, which meant a reduction in manning and all staff had to reapply for their own jobs with a £5000 a year wage cut. "We can make representations to Shell that staff are given guarantees about their future employment because they are in a very uncertain time. "If assurances were given now the guys would be able to focus on the job without the worry of the need to reapply for their own jobs, or how to readjust to substantial salary cuts."


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