Global oil and gas major Shell Plc (SHEL.L) has agreed to buy a 49% stake in wind farm developer WestWind Energy's Australian arm as it looks to build a low-carbon power generation business in the country, the two companies said on Tuesday.
Shell Energy Operations will buy the stake in WestWind Energy, owned by Germany-based The WestWind Group, for an undisclosed amount, looking to develop a 3 gigawatt (GW) portfolio of projects across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
That 3 GW pipeline of projects would cost about A$6 billion ($4 billion) to build, WestWind Energy Australia Managing Director Tobias Geiger told Reuters.
"Our first wind investment in Australia is a significant step in our goal to build a low carbon integrated business in Australia, in line with our customers' evolving energy needs," Shell Australia Country Chairman Tony Nunan said in a statement.
WestWind's partnership with Shell "is all about helping us accelerate our development of those future renewable energy projects," Geiger said.
While Shell is one of Australia's top gas producers, it has been building a power business in the country over the past few years, including acquiring ERM Power, the second-biggest energy retailer to businesses, and green energy retailer Powershop.
The deal with WestWind is similar to Shell's acquisition of a 49% stake in solar farm developer ESCO Pacific just over two years ago.
Shell also owns carbon farming company Select Carbon in Australia.
Analysts have speculated Shell might pounce on one of the country's major energy retailers. The no.3 retailer, EnergyAustralia, is on the lookout for a partner, its owner, Hong Kong-based CLP Holdings (0002.HK) said this week.
A Shell spokesperson declined to comment on what the company called market rumour or speculation.
($1 = 1.3768 Australian dollars)