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Shell output set to pass BP, $40 billion spent on projects

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, held back by almost seven years of falling production, is set to overtake BP Plc after about $40 billion of investment from Qatar to Brazil.

Shell will boost its oil and gas output by a third, adding 1 million barrels a day to capacity by the end of 2012, according to company estimates. That would push Shell to 4.25 million, more than the 4.1 million BP anticipates for 2012. Record investment in 2009 let Shell Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser expand programs including an oil-sands venture in Canada and the Sakhalin II project in Russia’s Far East. The outlook may help revive Shell’s London-listed shares, which have fallen this year even as competitors like BP gained.

“Shell will have so many startups in the coming five years that it will be impossible for European peers like BP to keep up,” said Peter Heijen, an Amsterdam-based analyst at Theodoor Gilissen Bankiers NV. He recommends buying Shell and predicts the stock will climb by 14 percent during the next year. “Shell has the biggest spending program and that is paying off.”

Shell, which reiterated the targets in a presentation yesterday, is Europe’s biggest oil company by market value, yet trails BP in production after militant attacks hurt operations in Nigeria. The exploration and production division is the top earner for oil companies.

The Hague-based Shell’s output averaged 3.25 million barrels of oil equivalent a day last year, while BP pumped 3.84 million. BP, which reversed two years of falling production in 2008, pushed output above 4 million in the second quarter. Shell takes into account an annual decline rate of 5 percent as fields mature.

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