John Alexander

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A US$70 billion takeover of BG Group Plc by Royal Dutch Shell Plc could bode well for Shell’s liquefied natural gas project in Kitimat, but not so well for BG’s own LNG proposal for Prince Rupert, say industry analysts.

Shell confirmed the takeover pf BG Group PLC April 8.

Of the 19 LNG proposals in B.C., the $40 billion LNG Canada project proposed by Shell and PetroChina is considered one of the ones more likely to be built.

Analysts say the merger does not bode well for BG Group’s own Prince Rupert LNG project.

“I certainly agree that the deal casts a lot of doubt on the BG project proposal, and I had heard that it was probably not one of the more likely ones to go ahead anyway,” said Brad Hayes, president of the petroleum consulting firm Petral Robertson Consulting Ltd.

“Shell will focus on what they’ve already got there.”

Some analysts have speculated the company will be occupied with the merger for months to come, which could push back the LNG Canada project. There were also concerns that that might happen anyway, given current energy prices.

Earlier this year, Shell and PetroChina walked away from the Arrow LNG project in Australia.

But Hayes said Shell has already made significant investment in the LNG Canada project and Canada in general, and in making the announcement, Shell’s CEO confirmed that LNG will be an important part of the company’s business going forward.

“Shell is a very long-term and committed player in Canada,” Hayes said. “They’ve been in Canada since the 40s and they’re going to stay here for the long-term.”

“I think that it’s highly unlikely that it will be cancelled. I think it would be shuffled up and down the priority list a little bit, but the fundamentals of there being a long-term big demand for LNG are there.”

Christopher Goncalves, the LNG, natural gas and power group leader for Berkeley Research Group’s, said Shell and BG Group each have substantial global footprints, shipping capabilities and marketing networks in the LNG sector.  He characterized the merger as “a doubling down” on Shell’s LNG business.

He said a rationalization of some of the companies’ projects and activities is to be expected. If one of the projects that cut through rationalization is one of the LNG projects in B.C, it leaves the other in a stronger position.

“There may be one project instead of two, but the strength behind that project will be much more substantial,” he said.

nbennett@biv.com

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