* Shell sells Wyoming and Louisiana gas fields
* Will get $2.1 billion and assets in Marcellus and Utica
(Recasts, updates throughout)
By Ron Bousso and Ernest Scheyder
LONDON/FARGO, North Dakota, Aug 14 Royal Dutch
Shell on Thursday announced the sale of two onshore
U.S. shale gas assets in exchange for $2.1 billion and acreage
in different gas-rich areas as the energy company restructures
its North America business and reins in costs.
Shell agreed to sell to Ultra Petroleum its
relatively mature natural gas-producing properties in Wyoming's
Pinedale field, a total of 155,000 acres, in a step which will
mark its complete exit from one of its first U.S. shale
investments in 2001.
Ultra will pay Shell $925 million in cash and give it
acreage in the oil and gas-rich Marcellus and Utica fields in
Pennsylvania and Ohio, respectively.
The Anglo-Dutch company will also sell its 107,000 acre
Haynesville field in north Louisiana for about $1.2 billion in
cash to Dallas, Texas-based explorer Vine Oil & Gas LP and its
partner, investment fund Blackstone Group LP.
"We continue to restructure and focus our North America
shale oil and gas portfolio to deliver the most value in the
longer term," said Marvin Odum, Shell's Upstream Americas
In the second quarter of 2014, Shell produced 190 million
cubic feet per day (mcf/d) of natural gas from Pinedale. The
Haynesville gas production reached 700 mcf/d as of July 1, Shell
Shell, like many other global oil companies, is carrying out
a broad cost-cutting drive aimed at boosting profits. Chief
Executive Ben van Beurden is seeking to offload $15
billion-worth of assets by the end of 2015, including in North
The company has focused on selling gas assets where
development costs are high while revenues are relatively low
compared with the oil sector, especially as natural gas prices
around the world have dropped sharply this year.
Shell's shares were up 0.73 percent at 1448 GMT.
FACTBOX - Shell's asset sales
The Marcellus and Utica additions could signal that Shell is
moving closer to building ethylene and polyethylene plants on
the western edge of Pennsylvania. The company has been thinking
about building the plants since at least 2011.
The plants, which would cost more than $1 billion to build,
would put Shell very close to the northeastern U.S. market for
polyethylene, a common plastic used in scores of consumer goods.
Shell, which already is one of the largest leaseholders in
the Marcellus, would be able to use the gas from the shale
fields directly in its plants.
Shell, however, said its deal for more Pennsylvania and Ohio
land did not necessarily mean it has decided to build the plant.
"Today's announcement is unrelated to our ongoing evaluation
of the proposed Beaver County petrochemical plant," Shell
spokesman Curtis Smith said when asked about the proposed plant.
(Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein in London and Swetha
Gopinath in Bangalore; Editing by Pravin Char and David Evans)