Shell, the current owner of 4.1% of the shares in Norwegian natural gas distribution company Gasnor AS, has signed a Share Purchase Agreement for the acquisition of the remaining outstanding shares in the company for USD 74 million (NOK 455.5 million). Shell describes the acquisition of Gasnor as an important step towards creating an LNG sales business in the transport sector, including capacity to service European marine customers.
Subject to Norwegian regulatory approvals, the transaction is expected to be closed in the 3rd quarter of 2012.
Gasnor is a market leader in Norway in small scale LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas), supplying LNG as a fuel to industrial and marine customers and operating an end to end supply chain, with three small scale production plants and distribution assets including two tanker ships, a fleet of trucks and a network of terminals.
Colin Abraham, Shell’s Vice President for Downstream LNG, said “The benefits of natural gas in meeting our future energy needs are well-documented. Shell believes the LNG in transport sector will develop into a sizeable market and given its industry leading expertise across the LNG value chain, the extension into this market is a good fit for Shell. The Gasnor acquisition provides Shell with invaluable customer and market insight built up over a number of years. This will help us to quickly develop and meet customer requirements for LNG as a transport fuel.”
Through this acquisition, Shell will capitalise on Gasnor’s experience in LNG sales and marketing, combining it with its own customer reach to target European marine customers ahead of new environmental regulations that will come into force from 2015. These regulations will apply across the Baltic Sea, English Channel and North Sea and will require lower levels of ‘air-quality emissions’ such as sulphur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Switching to LNG can help to reduce these emissions. Shell expects European marine LNG to be a key growth sector as customers look for cleaner, cost competitive fuel alternatives as part of their fuel supply mix.
Eilef Stange, Gasnor’s Chief Executive Officer, said “There is real growth potential for small scale LNG in Europe, particularly in the marine sector, and Gasnor with Shell is well placed to capitalise on this.”
In September 2011 Shell took its first final investment decision on a LNG for transport project in Canada to supply LNG to Shell Flying J truck stops for use by heavy truck fleets. In June 2012, Shell signed a memorandum of understanding with TravelCenters of America LLC (TA) to sell LNG to heavy-duty road transport customers in the US through TA’s existing nationwide network of full-service fueling centers.
Norway was one of the first European countries to focus on LNG as a fuel and this forward thinking helped foster Gasnor’s pioneering approach. Shell already has an upstream and downstream presence in Norway and this LNG acquisition is part of Norske Shell’s growth ambitions.