Royal Dutch Shell Group .com Shell Replaces CFO in Exploration After Reserves Cut (Update1)

April 7 (Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch/Shell Group replaced the finance chief for oil exploration and production, the unit where overstated oil and gas reserves earlier this year led to the ouster of Philip Watts as Shell's chairman.

Simon Henry, 42, replaces Frank Coopman as the division's chief financial officer immediately, Shell spokesman Simon Buerk said in London. Coopman, who had held the post since July 2002, was offered a different job and declined to take it, Buerk said.

``He was offered a key alternative position in Shell, which he chose not to accept,'' Buerk said. ``We continue to work toward a mutually acceptable alternative.''

The change comes after Shell, Europe's second-largest oil company, last month dismissed Watts and the head of the oil and gas unit, Walter van de Vijver. Shell in January cut its proven oil and gas reserves by 20 percent, triggering U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department probes.

Henry has worked at Shell for 21 years and is known to investors and analysts as Shell's former head of investor relations. He led the Jan. 9 conference call to discuss the reduction in reserves. Watts didn't participate in the call, angering investors.

Henry will report to Judy Boynton, chief financial officer for the parent company, after a reorganization last month that means the finance directors at each of Shell's four units report directly to the finance chief at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, instead of to the head of each operating unit.

Shell's exploration and production division works in more than 20 countries, from Nigeria to Australia, pumping 3.9 million barrels a day of crude oil and gas, and had a profit last year of $9.32 billion, up from $7 billion in 2002.

The company hasn't yet named a successor for Henry as head of investor relations, Buerk said.


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