(Adds Perenco response)
By Ron Bousso
LONDON Nov 25 Royal Dutch Shell is in
advanced talks with a party interested in buying its onshore
operations in Gabon as part of a $30 billion divestment plan
following its purchase of BG Group, which was completed in
Shell had informed its staff of the discussions on Thursday,
a spokesman for the firm told Reuters on Friday.
The oil and gas group, which plans to exit operations in 5
to 10 countries, has made relatively slow progress in its
divestments as uncertainty over oil's outlook has dampened buyer
enthusiasm for deals at the prices it is targeting. So far this
year, Shell has sold or agreed to sell around $6 billion of
Bids for the Gabon fields, which one source estimated could
be worth around $700 million, were due in June.
Shell declined to comment on the identity of the potential
buyer, but banking sources said that Carlyle Group, the
world's largest private equity fund, and Perenco, an independent
European oil and gas company, reached the second bidding round
for the assets.
As Shell and other big oil firms look to sell assets to
weather the more than two-year downturn in oil prices, private
equity and groups backed by funds have increasingly stepped into
A spokesman for Perenco declined to comment, while Carlyle
did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Shell has been operating in Gabon for more than 50 years,
and its holdings in the west African country include the Rabi
Kounga and Gamba fields.
(Additional reporting by Arathy Nair in Bengaluru; Writing by
Libby George; Editing by Jason Neely and Alexander Smith)