Shell Australia To Make Downstream Statement

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SOURCE Dow Jones Newswires | 12 April 2011

SYDNEY -(Dow Jones)- Royal Dutch Shell PLC's Australia unit will make an announcement on the future direction of its downstream portfolio at 0215 GMT Tuesday, the company said.

Shell Australia operates more than 800 branded service stations in the country and supplies around a quarter of Australia's petroleum products, according to the company's website.

It also operates two oil refineries in western Sydney and in Geelong to the west of Melbourne, which each provide around half of petroleum supplies in their respective states of New South Wales and Victoria.

The company's downstream business also encompasses supply and distribution operations and makers of refined products such as lubricants and bitumen.

Shell has expressed concerns to Australia's government that a planned carbon price would harm the prospects for its refinery investments in the country, according to local media reports. It has also announced several investments in diesel import and storage facilities close to key coal-mining regions in recent months, amidst expected growing energy demand from the country's mining boom.

The company has been the target of speculation in recent days that it was in talks with BHP Billiton Ltd. over a mooted bid by BHP for Woodside Petroleum Ltd., the country's largest domestic oil and gas producer.

Shell is Woodside's largest shareholder, and U.K. media at the weekend reported that it had held talks with BHP about a possible asset swap to aid the deal, but BHP said Monday there was no basis for the speculation and that the market was "currently fully informed of all material information".

Woodside's assets are mainly upstream oil and gas production facilities, rather than the downstream assets mentioned in Shell's announcement.

By David Fickling, Dow Jones Newswires

04-11-11 2130ET

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