Royal Dutch Shell Turns Back on UK Shale Gas Boom
Shell’s Share Price Little Changed in London Trading
by Rachel McCormack,
The European oil and gas major Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSA, LON:RDSB, NYSE:RDS.A, NYSE:RDS.B) had no desire to kickstart the UK shale gas boom, Simon Henry, Shell’s CFO and potential replacement of Peter Voser as company CEO, told The Telegraph on May 2. Shell’s share price was marginally up in morning trading in London on May 3.
Shell Has No Desire to Kickstart UK Shale Gas Boom
As the Telegraph reported, Henry said that Shell had already allocated more than $6 billion (£3.8 billion) to shale globally and was not going to exceed that amount. “Do we want to be first in and be in the headlines every day in the UK?,” he asked, as quoted by The Telegraph. “Well, your answer is: we are not.”
As Bloomberg reported on May 2, Henry had been tipped by Macquarie Capital Europe and RBC Capital Markets as a candidate to succeed Shell’s CEO Peter Voser who unexpectedly announced that he would step down as company CEO in 2014 to retire.
Henry, who last year was quoted as saying that Shell was “taking a look” at the UK shale gas potential, told the Telegraph yesterday that the company had “much higher priorities, and more attractive opportunities” elsewhere.
Better Opportunities Elsewhere
In January, Shell signed a production-sharing agreement to develop shale in Ukraine which is estimated to hold the third-largest reserves of unconventional or shale gas in Europe.
“We have a successful and growing business in North America, we have great opportunities in China, Ukraine and Russia,” Henri said, as quoted by The Telegraph. “The UK has to compete directly with them and right now nobody even knows whether the gas will flow.”
Currently, the industry is waiting for the publication of the British Geological Survey, which, as The Times reported in February, was expected to show that the UK had enough shale gas to heat every home in the country for 1,500 years, according to new estimates suggesting that reserves were 200 times greater than experts had previously thought.
Henry however told The Telegraph that while there was almost certainly a lot of shale gas in Europe including in the UK, it was not yet known how much it was or how easily it would flow from the ground.
UK Shale Gas Players
In March 2013, the projected UK shale gas boom received another blow with Cuadrilla Resources announcing that it was delaying plans to resume drilling near Blackpool.
Meanwhile, another UK shale gas player, IGas Energy Plc (LON:IGAS), confirmed plans to drill two wells in 2013 to further appraise its resources in the Bowland Shale property.
The Telegraph also quoted Andrew Monk, chief executive of VSA Capital, as saying that energy majors such as Shell would look to bigger shale plays elsewhere, whereas companies such as British Gas (LON:BG) owner Centrica (LON:CNA) were more likely to enter the UK shale gas industry.
“I think it will be huge in the UK,” he added, as quoted by The Telegraph. “It probably won't bring our energy bills down but it will stop them going through the roof.”