* Assets include 60,000 boed of production
* Carlyle's Assala Energy to operate onshore assets
* Deal expected to complete summer 2017
By Ron Bousso
LONDON, March 24 Carlyle Group has bought
Royal Dutch Shell's onshore assets in Gabon for $587
million as the world's largest private equity fund expands in
the global oil and gas sector.
For Shell, the deal marks a further step in a $30 billion
asset disposal programme to help cut debt after its $54 billion
acquisition of BG Group last year. The Anglo-Dutch oil company
has sold assets for more than $15 billion since 2016.
Shell's Gabon assets will be incorporated into
Carlyle-backed Assala Energy, which is led by former Tullow Oil
executive David Roux and will focus on energy opportunities in
sub-Saharan Africa, Carlyle said in a statement on Friday.
The assets operated by Shell produce approximately 60,000
barrels of oil equivalent per day, of which 40,000 boed go to
the company. Under the deal, which is expected to close in the
summer, Assala Energy will assume a debt of $285 million.
For Shell, the transaction will result in an impairment
charge of $53 million after tax which will be taken in the first
quarter of 2017, it said in a separate statement. About 430
local Shell employees will become part of Assala Energy.
The capital for the investment will come from Carlyle
International Energy Partners (CIEP), a $2.5 billion fund that
invests in global oil and gas exploration and production, and
the $698 million Carlyle Sub-Saharan Africa Fund (SSA).
Private equity funds have increased their presence in oil
exploration and production companies outside the United States
since the collapse in oil prices in 2014, snapping up assets
from oil companies seeking to reduce debt and narrow operations.
CIEP has invested $500 million in Mazarine Energy to make
bolt-on acquisitions in southern Europe and North Africa.
It also set up, together with private equity fund CVC
Partners, North Sea investment vehicle Neptune, headed by former
Centrica boss Sam Laidlaw, which is expected to make an
investment in the near future.
(Reporting by Ron Bousso; editing by Alexander Smith)