Global oil giant Shell has confirmed it is selling its service stations and Geelong refinery to Vitol for $2.9 billion.
The deal includes 870 service stations, Shell’s Australian refinery, as well as bulk fuels, bitumen, chemicals and part of its lubricants business.
However, Shell will retain ownership of its aviation fuel business and the lube oil blending and grease plants in Brisbane, which are to be converted into bulk distribution facilities.
Shell says the move is part of a global shift away from ‘downstream operations’ by the company, with refineries also being sold off in the UK, Germany, France, Norway and the Czech Republic, as well as other divestments in Egypt, Spain, Greece, Finland and Swden.
The Anglo-Dutch firm’s chief executive officer Ben van Beurden says Shell is trying to focus on the most profitable opportunities.
“Australia remains important to Shell, but we are making tough portfolio choices to improve the company’s overall competitiveness,” he said in a statement.
Shell says the majority of staff employed at the refinery, service stations and other businesses being sold will continue to be employed by Vitol.
“Like any business that operates for over a century, Shell’s business has changed over the years, and we are pleased to have found a buyer for the Geelong Refinery,” said Shell Australia’s chairman Andrew Smith.
“Through the brand agreement reached with Vitol, the Shell brand will continue to be displayed across the company’s service station network and customers will still have access to quality Shell fuels and lubricants.”
Mr Smith says Shell has many ‘upstream’ investments in Australia.
“Shell will continue to play a major role in the development of Australia’s expanding liquefied natural gas industry, and we look forward to strengthening our presence in the years ahead.”