Royal Dutch Shell PLC (IW 1000/1) and Chevron Corp. (IW 500/3) will exchange stakes in significant Australian liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects that are aimed at meeting Asia's growing demand for energy, the pair said on Monday.
Chevron will transfer its interest in the proposed Browse project to Shell, said a statement.
In return, the Anglo-Dutch group will give Chevron its share of two gas fields forming part of the Wheatstone LNG project and will also pay the U.S. company US$450 million in cash.
"Shell is pleased to be growing its position in a major Australian gas resource and future Australian LNG supply project," Shell director Andy Brown said in the statement."This is a good deal, not only because it aligns with Shell's strategy of bigger direct stakes in key gas resources, but because it also helps to simplify the ownership of the Browse gas fields.
"The Browse gas fields are a key LNG development opportunity for Australia," he added.
Australia is set to become the world's largest liquefied natural gas producer, with analysts predicting it will overtake Qatar by 2020 as it unlocks reserves that could last more than a century.
Seven of the world's 10 major LNG projects are under construction in Australia, with US$183 billion of private Australian and foreign investment in gas projects since 2007.
Analysts expect Australia to pip the small Gulf emirate, which holds the world's third-largest gas reserves and last year saw LNG production capacity rise to 77 million tons per year, by 2020.
But the government is hoping it reaches the target sooner, with China's demand for LNG growing by almost one-third last year, while India's import capacity is projected to triple by 2015.
Dow Jones newswires contributed to this report.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012