March 16 (UPI) -- The sale of New Zealand acreage with hundreds of barrels of recoverable reserves is part of a long-term strategy to slim down, Royal Dutch Shell said.
In a $578 million deal, Shell sold off interest in gas-producing fields and associated infrastructure to Austrian energy company OMV. The deal included the sale of a stake in the Pohokura field, the largest gas producing field in New Zealand.
Maarten Wetselaar, a gas director at Shell, said the sale "is another step towards reshaping and simplifying our company, deepening Shell's financial resilience and competitiveness, in order to become a world-class investment."
Shell is still trying to trim down and retool its operations after its 2015 mega merger with British energy company BG Group. It set a goal of divesting $30 billion by the end of the year and, by the fourth quarter, was close to that target.
The sale of New Zealand acreage follows a two-year review of its portfolio. Shell transferred its assets in the Kapuni gas field in New Zealand to Todd Energy, its joint venture partner, in April.
For OMV, it adds acreage to its portfolio that was producing on average 31,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day during the first two months of the year.
"This acquisition builds on our operatorship capabilities in New Zealand, adds up to 100 million boe of recoverable resources and improves the quality of our upstream portfolio," Johann Pleininger, the deputy chairman of the executive board, said in a statement.
Oil is the sixth-largest commodity export for New Zealand. Annually, oil and gas production contributed more than $1.7 billion to the nation's gross domestic product.