Royal Dutch Shell will divest all its 97 million shares in Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) as part of the company’s $30 billion divestment program announced after 2016 purchase of BG Group for $50 billion..  Shell photo.

Shell sells its 8 per cent stake in CNRL

On Monday, Royal Dutch Shell announced it will sell all of its remaining shares in Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.  The sale of the oil sands assets is part of the global oil major’s $30 billion debt reduction program.

The announcement “contributes to our strategy to reshape Shell, to deliver a world-class investment case and to strengthen our financial framework,” a company spokesman told Bloomberg.  Canadian Natural declined comment.

The Hague-based company says oil sands mining and in-situ operations were no longer a strategic fit for it.

Shell currently holds over 97 million shares in CNRL, or 8 per cent of the company.  Shell acquired the shares last year as part of the $11.1 billion cash and stock deal that saw CNRL buy out Shell’s 60 per cent share in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project.

The Athabasca Oil Sands Project includes a mine located north of Fort McMurray as well as the Scotford bitumen upgrader and Quest carbon capture project northeast of Edmonton.

The Shell shares in CNRL are being offered at US$34.10 per share, which is a 2.9 per cent discount to the company’s close in New York on Monday.

At the time of the sale, Shell said the oil sands were no longer a fit for the company as it planned to focus on deepwater oil and gas production.  Since then, Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said he is eager to show a company such as his can be part of a world intent on cutting harmful emissions.

Under van Beurden, Shell is now shifting towards natural gas production and green energy projects.

Shell retains its positions in the Duvernay and Montney shale oil and gas properties in BC and Alberta as well as its refining and chemical businesses near Edmonton and a proposed LNG project.  It also still has a 10 per cent stake in an Athabasca Oil Sands Project facility that turns heavy oil into synthetic crude.

According to Global News, the sale, underwritten by Goldman Sachs, RBC Capital Markets, Scotiabank and TD Securities, is expected to be completed by Wednesday.

By 2:13 p.m., EDT, Canadian Natural shares had fallen by $1.20 to $44.10.

The divestment of the Shell shares in CNRL will boost Shell’s asset sale program to US$26 billion, close to its US$30 billion goal.  The divestment program began after the US$50 billion purchase of BG Group Plc.