Shell reacts to claims over Israel gas field

Oil giant Shell is downplaying media reports that it is selling its stake in Australian company Woodside Petroleum because of Woodside's substantial interest in the Leviathan gas field in Israel.

Woodside, an oil and gas production company, recently acquired a controlling 30 per cent interest in Leviathan .

Luke Smith, an analyst at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, told the Wall Street Journal that “Given the geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and Shell’s significant investments in the region outside Israel, we anticipate a sell down to dispel any perception amongst other Middle Eastern countries that Shell is investing either directly or indirectly in Israel.”

However, a Shell spokesperson, speaking to the JC, pointed out Shell had "already divested a substantial stake in Woodside before the Leviathan announcement. We sold just under 30 per cent of our total interest in Woodside in 2010."

Shell currently has a 23 per cent interest in Woodside Petroleum – worth more than $7 billion.

Last updated: 7:30pm, April 9 2013