23 Nov 2005

300 could be out of work if the multi national Shell pulls out of the Pacific

4:07 pm on 23 November 2005

At least 300 jobs are in jeopardy as the oil company Shell pulls out of the Pacific Islands region.

The general manager of Shell Fiji, Peter Walsh, says the firm is now seeking expressions of interest for its operations in Fiji, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga and the Cook Islands.

Mr Walsh says the whole national operations, or individual businesses will be sold as going concerns over the next 12 to 18 months.

He says the company's decision isn't related to moves by Pacific countries to club together, buy and stockpile fuel, which could affect Shell's profits.

Mr Walsh says Shell has already worked with governments and has been subject to price control mechanisms in all the Pacific Island countries.

"Decisions by government are outside of this, we are making a business decision on the basis of the performance to date, and our view of the performance in the future."

The US firm Interoil says it's agreed in principle to buy Shell's operations in Papua New Guinea.