RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) is interested in acquiring new assets in the Gulf of Mexico, including those of Brazil’s state-controlled oil company Petrobras, Shell’s Chief Executive Peter Voser said on Thursday.
No decision has been made on whether to purchase the oil exploration and production blocks that the Brazilian company is selling in the Gulf, Voser told reporters in Rio de Janeiro.
But Shell will consider all the assets that Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4.SA), as Petrobras is known, is hawking under a $9 billion asset-sale program, he added.
Petrobras is selling oil fields, exploration rights, refineries and other assets in Argentina, Nigeria, Japan and the United States in an effort to raise cash to help finance a $237 billion, five-year investment plan - the world’s largest corporate spending program.
The plan aims to help develop giant new offshore reserves in Brazil and boost Petrobras’ output to more than 5 million barrels a day by 2020, making it one of the world’s largest producers.
Petrobras, though, has been having trouble selling its assets. It had originally hoped to earn as much as $15 billion with the sales, nearly two-thirds more than it now expects to earn.
Voser, who was in Brazil to celebrate the Anglo-Dutch company’s 100th anniversary, addressed a variety of issues during a press conference at Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Palace hotel.
While Shell is looking for assets in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere, it is not seeking to purchase exploration rights from other companies in East Africa, he said. There the company planned to concentrate on “organic” growth, or opportunities it had developed on its own.
The company was also enthusiastic about shale oil and gas in Latin America, particularly in Colombia, Brazil and Argentina. Shale oil and gas are hydrocarbons produced in so-called “unconventional” shale formations that require the use of water and chemicals under pressure to release the fuel trapped in the rock.
The geological characteristics of areas where Shell plans to drill in Latin America are similar to those in countries with substantial shale oil and gas production, Voser said.
In the United States, where a shale gas and oil revolution is transforming the energy market and driving down prices, unconventional hydrocarbon development could “help reindustrialize the United States,” Voser said.
Shell is not openly lobbying for the United States to allow large new volumes of natural gas from shale structure to be exported, he said, but as one of the largest world players in liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, it is seeking ways to export gas from the United States from time to time.
Oil companies were likely to try to export about 120 million tonnes of LNG a year from the United States. The U.S. government will authorize the export of about half of that, or about 50 million to 60 million tonnes, Voser said.
Reporting by Jeb Blount; Editing by Gary Hill and Stephen Coates