Royal Dutch Shell Group .com

San Jose Mercury News: Ex-Shell Exploration Head Defends Actions


Associated Press

Wed, Apr. 14, 2004


AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - The former head of exploration at Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Cos., who was forced to resign after the company reduced its estimated oil and gas reserves, says he repeatedly tried to draw attention to Shell's erroneous evaluations.


In his first statement since resigning last month, Walter van de Vijver defended his actions, and said he was compelled to leave "without credible explanation." The statement, dated Tuesday, was released by his lawyers.


Along with Van de Vijver, Shell's chairman Sir Philip Watts also resigned after the company reduced its estimated reserves of oil and gas by around 20 percent in January.


Reserves are an oil company's top asset and the adjustment sparked an investigation into Shell's accounting by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.


After being appointed head of the division in 2001, Van de Vijver said, "I found that the company's procedures were in need of improvement and that some prior bookings needed to be reevaluated."


He said he had informed other managing directors immediately. When more information became available, "I recommended appropriate public disclosure," he said.


"As the magnitude of the noncompliant reserves classifications became apparent in late 2003, I led the charge to communicate the issues fully within the company," he said.


Shell spokeswoman Bianca Ruakere said Wednesday Van de Vijver was no longer an employee and the company wouldn't comment on the "facts and circumstances" of the reduction until an internal review is completed in the next several weeks.


"At that time the main conclusions will be made public," Ruakere said. She added that the company was aware of Van de Vijver's statement.


Van de Vijver couldn't immediately be reached for further comment.


Shell says it has improved the way in which it estimates and reports the size of its reserves since January.

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