shell_2634594bRoyal Dutch Shell has agreed to sell around 185 petrol stations in the UK to two forecourt operators. The number is a quarter of Shell’s portfolio and is part of an attempt to grow its fuel dealer network instead of owning retail outlets directly.

The UK’s largest oil and gas company will reduce the number held under full ownership to 550.

Shell will part with 90 of those 185 stations, selling them off to Motor Group, which already manages BP-branded service stations. The sale of 68 others has been agreed with Euro Garages, the company said, although it did not disclose financial details.

Shell expects to sign contracts for the remaining stations in the coming weeks.

The sold-off petrol stations will continue to trade under the Shell brand until at least 2020. Commenting on the selection of the new owner, David Moss, Retail General Manager for Shell in North Europe, said they were chosen because they “will invest in the sites”. The company declined to provide a value for the deals, which will leave Shell with 550 sites that it directly owns.

The sale of the service stations comes as Shell focuses on completing the biggest oil and gas merger deal in UK corporate history. Last week the company said it is to purchase its smaller rival BG Group for £47bn, the largest ever British deal, likely about to trigger a several new deals in the sector.

The move comes as the oil price has dropped by almost  50% over the past year because of a global stagnation  in demand, saliently from China, as well as an abundance in the worldwide supply.