Sales completed: Santoprene business and our stake in 13 North Sea fields

Last month (December 2021) the Corporation completed two previously announced sales, with the Santoprene business (including the AES operation at Newport) being sold to Celanese Corporation for $1.15 billion; and most of our remaining (non-operated) stakes in fields in the northern and central UK North Sea (including Shearwater, pictured) acquired by NEO Energy for more than $1 billion.

Almost 100 AES staff based in Newport, Wales transferred to Celanese, and a small number of Upstream staff working in our Aberdeen office transferred to NEO Energy.

Celanese is a longstanding customer of our Chemicals products and the Santoprene TPV elastomers business joins other specialty materials operations at the company.

The sale to NEO Energy includes ownership interests in 13 fields operated mostly by Shell, including Penguins, Starling, Fram, the Gannet Cluster and Shearwater; Elgin Franklin fields operated by Total; and interests in the associated infrastructure.

We retain our non-operated share in upstream assets in the southern North Sea, and in the Shell Esso gas and liquids (SEGAL) infrastructure that supplies ethane to the Fife Ethylene Plant.

While the sale to NEO includes the majority of our UK North Sea assets, most of these fields are mature, and the corporation’s strategic focus is on investments with higher long-term strategic value. 

It is important to recognise that we continue to make major, long-term investments in the UK, such as the recent £140 million upgrade at the Fife ethylene plant, and in the multi-million pound Southampton to London replacement pipeline project.

We are looking to the future too, most recently in our discussions with the Acorn Carbon Capture and Storage project at St. Fergus in Scotland, and in the work we are doing to assess the potential for hydrogen and associated CCS at Fawley to serve the Southampton area.

After operating for more than 135 years in the UK, our onshore presence remains strong, including natural gas sales, refining and chemical operations, and the marketing of fuels (through a network of more than 1,200 independently owned Esso-branded retail sites), lubricants and petrochemicals.

Image Our stake in the Shearwater field is included in the UK North Sea sale
Our stake in the Shearwater field is included in the UK North Sea sale