LONDON (Reuters) – When Royal Dutch Shell wanted to buy a stake last year in a promising exploration block off South Africa, Total, the asset’s main shareholder, used its right to stymie the deal and acquired the share itself, only to sell it on to Qatar Petroleum. The rapid turn of events caught some of those involved by surprise, according to company sources close to the transaction, whose details have not previously been reported. For Total (TOTF.PA), it was part of a wider quest to tighten ties with Qatar Petroleum (QP) in an effort to secure a stake in the Gulf country’s planned expansion of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities, already the world’s largest and one of the most lucrative projects in the energy sector. The race for a role in the project has drawn in several of the world’s largest energy companies, including Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) and Shell (RDSa.L), which have also offered QP stakes in some of their most prized ventures. Energy companies see natural gas, the least polluting hydrocarbon, as a key fuel in the transition to a lower-carbon economy. Liquefying the gas allows its transportation to consumer countries such as India, China and Japan and… continue reading
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