Shell Restructures Participation in the Dutch Gas Business

In a letter to the Dutch Parliament, Minister of Economic Affairs Brinkhorst has announced this morning that the Dutch State, Shell Nederland B.V. and Esso Nederland B.V. have agreed in principle on a split of Gasunie, the Dutch gas company, resulting in a transfer of ownership in the transportation business.

Under the envisaged arrangement, the Dutch State will assume full ownership of the transportation business, including all assets, operations and participations held by that part of the business. The merchant business will remain a joint venture between the Dutch State (50%), Shell (25%) and ExxonMobil (25%). Related changes to the venture agreements will be effected and the new, state-owned transport business would operate independently from production, trade and supply of natural gas.

As specified in the heads of agreement, the Dutch State will upon implementation make a total net payment of EUR 2.78 billion. It is expected that the transaction will be fully implemented by mid 2005.

Michael O'Callaghan, CEO of Shell Energy Europe, welcomed the transaction: "The envisaged agreement is a further milestone in delivering on our strategy of active portfolio management."

Rein Willems, President of Shell Nederland and Country Chairman of Shell in the Netherlands, added: "I am pleased that the parties involved have agreed on this transaction. I would like to re-emphasise that Shell is committed to the Dutch gas business, which is a cornerstone of our European gas strategy".