The Times: Shell chiefs meet as new allegations emerge in US
April 17, 2004
By Carl Mortished, International Business Editor
SHELL’S top management yesterday came under scrutiny again as the combined boards of Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell Transport and Trading met in the Netherlands to consider a draft report from a committee investigating the misreporting of more than 4 billion barrels of oil and gas reserves.
The actions of senior directors, such as Jeroen Van der Veer, the current chairman, and Judy Boynton, the finance director, have been scrutinised amid growing concern that the draft report fails to address deeper problems within the organisation.
The report, which Aad Jacobs, chairman of Royal Dutch, said would be published by the end of the month, is believed to pin blame for the reserves scandal on Sir Philip Watts and Walter van de Vijver, respectively the former chairman and the former head of exploration, who were ousted in March.
Further accusations against Mr Van de Vijver have arisen in the US with reports yesterday that he told a subordinate to “destroy” a report prepared by Frank Coopman, the exploration finance officer, who has since been removed from his post. In a December 2 e-mail, Mr Van de Vijver allegedly expresses concern that Mr Coopman’s conclusions were premature. The report, which indicated concerns that up to 3.6 billion barrels of oil might be overstated, was not destroyed.
The new accusations contradict claims made this week by Mr Van de Vijver that he “led the charge” in seeking full disclosure of the reserves problem. In a statement, the Dutchman appeared to put blame on former colleagues, suggesting he made known his concern soon after he was made head of exploration in June 2001.