I was discussing this same cause for the uptrend with another long this AM. It is certainly possible, and Shell may well know the state of bidding through its association with Petromin. I mean by that if Petromin knows, Shell would almost certainly know. And Shell alone of SMs, we think, has never signed a CA, so is thus also not bound to "standing still" agreements on stock purchases.
If I were running Shell M&A, I'd make a hostile offer before the bids are finalized, or certainly before winning bids are recognized, to avoid claims by the bidders of "tortious interference" resulting from a hostile buyout after the fact. Remember Gulf and Texaco, the lawsuit that killed Texaco in a Houston courtroom? Just my 2 cents.
OTOH Shell is noted for disruptive behavior, brinksmanship, and foolish timing. Early March may yield all sorts of surprises. Stay tuned.
My bets on on JKM and XOM. JKM has built in markets already in place and stands to profit way more than anyone else, hence can afford higher bidding. The logistics support XOM as they're already there and will have facilities in place to maximize cost savings and to enhance their own production.
Shell should know better than any one of the bidders what the assets offer... and they were negotiating last summer until the talks broke down. So they want this resource!! I have no doubt they'll make another run at IOC very very soon.
The 3 things longs really need to remember are: 1) Shell was/is extremely interested in a resource they know very very well (HELLO!!!!!), 2) Phil was "demoted" in a sense due to overwhelming evidence that he was not the right guy to steer a deal, and 3) IOC has set its own deadline for bids.
Everything else, including every ridiculous short comment, is just noise.