Shell to sell Australian downstream businesses to Swiss-based oil trader Vitol for $2.6 bn

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's largest energy company, yesterday agreed to sell its downstream businesses in Australia to Swiss-based oil trader Vitol SA for about A$2.9 billion ($2.6 billion), and focus instead on upstream exploration and production.

ShellThe sale covers Shell's Geelong Refinery and 870-site retail business - along with its bulk fuels, bitumen, chemicals and part of its lubricants businesses in Australia. It also includes a brand license arrangement and an exclusive distributor arrangement in Australia for Shell Lubricants.

The deal does not include Shell's Aviation business or the lube oil blending and grease plants in Brisbane, which will be converted to bulk storage and distribution facilities. 

Shell said that it would continue to invest in its upstream business in Australia, which will not be impacted by this sale.

Vitol president and CEO, Ian Taylor, said, ''This is an exciting acquisition for us, a good company led by an experienced management team and underpinned by the value of the Shell brand.  Australia is a growing economy and we look forward to working with the management team to strengthen and grow the business.''

Ben van Beurden, CEO of Shell, said, ''Australia remains important to Shell, but we are making tough portfolio choices to improve the company's overall competitiveness.

The London-based oil major recent sold its refineries in the UK, Germany, France, Norway and the Czech Republic, downstream businesses in Egypt, Spain, Greece, Finland and Sweden, and is planning to sell some of its downstream businesses in Norway.

Founded in 1966 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Vitol has since grown to become the world's largest independent energy trader.

Its trading portfolio includes crude oil, oil products, LPG, LNG, natural gas, coal, electricity, agricultural products, metals and carbon emissions.

Globally Vitol trades over 5 million barrels of crude oil and oil products per day and posted revenues of $303 billion in 2012.