No Split for Shell

Oil company committed to refining, CEO says

THE HAGUE -- Royal Dutch Shell plc's chief executive said that he has no plans to follow in the footsteps of rivals and shed its refineries. "We will remain an integrated oil company," Peter Voser, head of the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, said Wednesday in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Several integrated oil companies, which explore for oil and refine crude, have lately concluded they would be better off split into separate parts. ConocoPhillips said in July that it is dividing itself into two publicly traded companies, one for each side of the business. That follows a similar move Marathon Oil Corp. made this summer when it created publicly traded Marathon Petroleum Corp. to run its refineries.

Meanwhile, Murphy Oil Corp. has sold all of its refineries except for one in Wales, which it is actively shopping. And Sunoco has said that it will sell its refineries.

Also, speculation arose over a BP upstream-downstream split after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In late August, however, Chevron Corp. said that it is not interested in spinning off its refineries into a separate company. "You should not look for Chevron to participate in anything like what ConocoPhillips or Marathon has done," CEO John Watson told Reuters.

Voser said Shell values its refineries as part of its overall business, according to the report. Owning refineries, he said, should give the company an advantage in developing its Canadian oil sands, the thick crude that requires intense refining, and in its efforts to turn North America's abundant natural gas into fuel for vehicles.

If a company is only involved in one part of the oil-and-gas business, he added, "you have the risk that others will optimize the value chain."

Voser said that having refining capabilities also gives Shell an advantage when courting government-owned oil companies, which typically have access to vast reserves but little capability to get oil and gas out of the ground or to turn them into marketable products.

"For us to be the right partner to national oil companies, we have to be integrated," he said.

Royal Dutch Shell plc is incorporated in England and Wales, has its headquarters in The Hague.

Shell Oil Products US, a subsidiary of Shell Oil Co., is a leader in the refining, transportation and marketing of fuels, and has a network of more than 6,000 Shell-branded gasoline stations in the western United States. Shell Oil is an affiliate of the Shell. Shell Oil is a 50% owner of Motiva Enterprises LLC, along with Saudi Refining Inc. Motiva refines and markets branded products through approximately 8,200 Shell-branded stations in the eastern and southern United States.

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