Qatar, Shell Sign Pact to Pursue International Opportunities

LONDON, Jun 8, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) and the international arm of state-run Qatar Petroleum have signed a deal to pursue global projects together, the Qatar News Agency reported Thursday.

The move underpins Shell's long-term strategy of seeking international partnerships with national oil and gas companies in order to swap its global footprint in exchange for access to local reserves.

A Shell spokesman confirmed Friday that the company had signed the memorandum of understanding with Qatar Petroleum International and said it was "a first step to look at opportunities beyond Qatar."

The MoU was clinched during a visit this week by Qatari energy minister Abdullah al-Attiyah to the Hague, in the Netherlands, where Shell is based. It was signed by al-Attiyah and Shell's head of gas and power, Linda Cook in the presence of chief executive Jeroen van der Veer.

The deal is positive news for Shell's ambitions in the tiny, gas-rich Gulf emirate Qatar, where it moved forward with the Pearl gas-to-liquids project last year and also has a liquefied-natural-gas venture.

"We are very pleased to see our growing partnership with Shell take on a new dimension and look forward in the successful delivery of this joint project," al-Attiyah was quoted as saying by the agency.

The Shell spokesman said the main purpose of al-Attiyah's visit to the Netherlands "is to foster and strengthen relations with Shell."

"The visit which is taking place from 6 to 9 June is an opportunity for both parties to engage in energy industry-related discussions, and exchange views and ideas on issues of mutual interest," he added.

The spokesman said it was too early to comment on what sorts of projects could be undertaken through the partnership.

Qatar, which sits on the world's largest non-associated gas field, has been fast expanding its international energy operations in recent months.

In May, Qatar Petroleum clinched a $2 billion deal with Tunisia's Energy Ministry to build a 150,000 barrels-a-day refinery in the North African country. v Earlier that month, the Qatari state company and Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY) signed an MOU for a 350,000 barrels-a-day refinery in Panama.

Shell has also focused on partnerships to strengthen its ties with state oil and gas companies. Many government companies are becoming increasingly assertive in their relationship with international majors but they are also seeking to take advantage of their global presence.

Two years ago, Shell signed a MOU with the international refining arm of state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corp. for future joint investments, notably in India and China. It has also agreed to work with Abu Dhabi's state-owned Mubadala Development Co. to seek exploration and production opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa.

Late 2005, Shell also said it was in talks with China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (SNP), or Sinopec, on possible partnerships in the Middle East beyond Iran.

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