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Shell cuts stake in Brazil oil project with $1 billion sale to Qatar

A Shell logo is seen at a petrol station in London January 31, 2013. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
A Shell logo is seen at a petrol station in London January 31, 2013. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil firm Royal Dutch Shell is selling a stake in a Brazilian oil project to Qatar Petroleum International (QPI) for $1 billion, in line with this year's plan to ramp up disposals.

Shell said on Wednesday it was selling 23 percent of the Parque das Conchas or BC-10 project off the coast of Brazil, leaving it with a 50 percent interest. It will continue to operate the 50,000 barrels of oil per day project.

Earlier in January Shell sold a stake in a gas project in Western Australia for $1.14 billion as part of its drive to improve return on investment, days after it had issued a shock profit warning for the fourth quarter.

Analysts and shareholders said the company's weak results would push the world's number-three investor-controlled energy firm to keep a tighter control on costs after it said 2013 capital expenditure would peak at about $45 billion.

Shell had already said last October that it would significantly step up disposals in 2014 to keep cash flowing in.

Recent media reports have suggested the company's divestments could total $15 billion this year, equivalent to around 6.5 percent of its $228 billion market capitalization.

QPI, the global arm of Qatar Petroleum, which is the world's largest liquefied natural gas exporter, has to date undertaken only limited expansion overseas but the Gulf state's energy minister told Reuters in October that QPI wants to expand its reach.

Shell, which said the Brazilian disposal was subject to regulatory approval by that country's authorities, is due to release its fourth-quarter results on Thursday.

Shares in the company closed at 2,123.5 pence on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Kate Holton and Paul Sandle)

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