Royal Dutch Shell Group .com Shell finance chief quits in oil reserve crisis


(Filed: 19/04/2004)


The crisis over the reserves of oil giant Shell has claimed its third scalp with the departure of the company's finance chief.


News that Judy Boynton had stepped aside emerged in a report into the circumstances around Shell's downgrading of its oil and gas stocks in January.


It came as Shell lowered the estimates of its proved reserves for the third time in as many months, but said 90 per cent of its global energy fields had now been reassessed.


The reserves crisis has already led to the resignations of Sir Philip Watts as Shell's chairman and Walter van de Vijver as its head of exploration and production.


Jeroen van der Veer, the Shell chairman, said the report "draws a line" under the uncertainties of the company's reserves.


Although Ms Boynton has given up her executive roles, which also included group managing director, she will retain an advisory role to Mr van der Veer.


Shell said that reserves at more than one third of its 300 oil and gas fields had been adjusted since the crisis broke in January.


A third marginal downgrade means its reserves at the end of 2002 were 4.35 billion barrels lower than previously thought. There is also a further reduction of 500 million barrels for last year.


The impact on earnings from these changes averages $100 million (55.4 million) for each year since 2000, Shell said.


Shell is being investigated by financial watchdogs in the United States, Britain and Holland about the downgrading as well as facing class action lawsuits in America.


Aad Jacobs and Lord Oxburgh, the chairmen of the boards of Shell's parent company, said the "difficult findings" of the report had been accepted in full.


"Shell simply cannot allow this to happen again," they said.


Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004.

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