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On Feb 12, the Australian arm of the European oil major Royal Dutch Shell plc (RDS.A - Analyst Report) awarded a contract to Perth-based KT Maritime Services Australia Pty Ltd for the construction and operation of three Infield Support Vessels (ISVs) to support operations at its Prelude Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) facility.
 
The 100 ton, 42 meter long ISVs will help in product offloading when Prelude FLNG becomes operational. These vessels will work from the Port of Broome on rotation. The ISVs are custom made to meet Prelude FLNG’s specific marine services requirements like tanker berthing, offshore operations support and emergency response.

The Prelude FLNG project is located 475 kilometer north-north east of Broome, in Western Australia, in the Browse Basin. The facility is expected to have an output of 3.6 million tons per annum (mtpa) of LNG, 1.3 mtpa of condensate and 0.4 mtpa of LPG.

Shell expects this project to be an important contributor to the Australian economy as it plans a yearly investment about A$200 million during the operation and maintenance of the project. Also, it would result in the creation of new jobs.

U.K.-based Shell is the largest oil company in Europe. The company has operations worldwide and is involved in various activities related to oil and natural gas, chemicals, power generation, renewable energy resources and other energy-related businesses.

On Jan 30, Shell reported disappointing fourth quarter results, continuing the trend from the past two quarters. Shell reported earnings per ADR of 93 cents, well below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.33 and the year-ago adjusted earnings per ADR of $1.80. Moreover, Shell’s revenues were down 7.5% year over year to $109.2 billion.

The Anglo-Dutch super-major currently holds a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell), implying that it is expected to underperform the broader U.S. market in the next one to three months.

However, there are other better-ranked players in the energy sector that are worth considering. These include the Zacks Ranked #1 (Strong Buy) stocks of Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (COG - Analyst Report), Helmerich & Payne, Inc. (HP - Analyst Report) and Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNQ - Analyst Report).
 

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