Shell’s BG deal: The biggest oil price bet yet?

Royal Dutch Shell's £47 billion ($69 billion) agreed deal for energy company BG Group has already created turmoil. Shares in the UK energy utility soared nearly 40 percent, sending the entire London market higher on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Shell's own share price was down around 3 percent, reflecting concerns about the execution of the deal.

Shell's approach, after what chief executive Ben van Beurden told CNBC was years of interest in BG, comes at a time when the plummeting oil price has increased speculation about potential megamergers.

There were even rumors of a deal between Shell and fellow FTSE 100 oil giant BP late last year. BG looks like an easier fit for Shell, but it brings with it heightened exposure to the price of liquefied natural gas (LNG), which has also suffered substantial falls in recent months.

Van Beurden told CNBC: "This is as much about gas as it is about oil, in fact maybe a little bit more about gas."

With no immediate signs of a recovery in the oil price, companies like Shell are looking for other ways to keep delivering value for shareholders.


"Any oil company at current oil prices is going to be running through their reserves and seeing what works when. Some of the very expensive projects simply won't work," Jessica Ground, UK equities fund manager at Schroders, told CNBC.

"This is about making sure that you've got assets you can extract and make sense economically at a low oil price."

BG's most attractive assets with potential for future growth include its offshore Brazilian oil, a large LNG project in Australia, and gas resources in East Africa.

The other big question remaining is: What next for Helge Lund, chief executive of BG, who joined from Norway's Statoil in October? Lund is expected to stay with the group throughout the transition period, but after that his plans are not known.

"You'll have to talk to Helge about his plans," van Beurden told CNBC.

With a multimillion pound payout for months of work at BG Group, Lund can afford to consider his options.