The European Union's top competition authority has unconditionally approved Royal Dutch Shell Group’s proposed $US70 billion ($99.4 billion) takeover of BG Group.
Reuters reports that the European Commission said the takeover would not adversely affect competition in oil and gas exploration, the liquefaction of gas and the wholesale supply of liquefied natural gas.
According to Shell's chief executive, Ben van Beurden, the decision means the takeover is still on track to be completed early next year.
As the AFR reports, the deal now needs two key approvals, one from China and the other from The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The ACCC said on its website that, while the decision was due today, it has been deferred for two weeks "to allow additional time to consider the proposed acquisition."
If it were to go ahead, the acquisition would further concentrate the ownership of gas resources in Queensland. Currently, Shell owns 50 per cent of the Arrow gas venture with PetroChina, and BG owns QGC.
Australian manufacturers, in particular are wary of the proposed takeover. In May, lobby group Manufacturing Australia claimed rising gas prices could result in the loss of as many as 83,000 manufacturing jobs.