[WELLINGTON] Energy giant Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday refused to rule out closing its New Zealand operations after more than a century as it announced a review of its operations in the country.
The news comes as energy giants around the world scale back operations and investments in the face of a plunge in commodities prices that has sent a chill through stock markets.
Shell New Zealand chairman Rob Jager said the review was part of a move to "streamline" the London-listed company's global portfolio.
"The Shell business in New Zealand is a great, but small, part of the global Shell business and hence the decision to undertake a strategic review at this time," he said in a statement.
In October, Shell booked a mammoth US$7.4 billion third-quarter loss on the back of plummeting oil prices and the scrapping of expensive projects in Alaska and Canada.
As a result, it vowed to become a "more focused and competitive company" concentrating its growth efforts on deep water and integrated gas.
Shell's assets in New Zealand include stakes in the Maui, Kapuni and Pohokura gas fields, as well as a 50 per cent share in Shell Todd Oil Services.
Mr Jager said the company, which opened operations in New Zealand in 1911, supplied about 70 per cent of the country's gas.
He said all options were being examined, including a full exit from New Zealand, and declined to estimate the value of the assets.
The price of oil has led a painful retreat in commodities prices - including copper, iron ore and nickel - in the past 18 months, with crude slumping more than 60 percent from highs above US$100 in the summer of 2014.
A number of companies have been hit by the dive, with several closing their rigs, with others have been forced to stop projects.
The latest saw miner Anglo American reveal plans on Tuesday to slash its workforce by almost two-thirds after 2017, adding that it would suspend dividend payments until the end of next year.