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From Mammon to God: Oiligarchs beat the path from profit to pews

“Watts only ended his 35-year career with Shell because he was forced out over the 2004 oil reserves fiasco. News that the company had been overstating its reserves by 20 per cent caused Shell’s stock prices to fall by $15bn — yet Watts still walked away with a £1 million pay-off and a pension of more than £500,000 per annum…”

It’s not just Justin Welby – oiligarchs beat the path from profit to pews

5 November 2012

From Mammon to God. The Church of England seems to be flooded with former oil men at present.

Last week Justin Welby, who spent 11 years working as an oil executive, was appointed as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. What’s less well known is that another big name in oil has received a clerical promotion. Sir Philip Watts, Shell’s former chairman, is to become priest in charge at Waltham St Lawrence, Berkshire, after being a curate at another local church.

Although they worked in the same industry, the two men’s paths to salvation have been rather different. While Welby voluntarily swapped the high pay for pews because he was “unable to get away from a sense of God calling”, Watts only ended his 35-year career with Shell because he was forced out over the 2004 oil reserves fiasco. News that the company had been overstating its reserves by 20 per cent caused Shell’s stock prices to fall by $15bn — yet Watts still walked away with a £1 million pay-off and a pension of more than £500,000 per annum.

Watts declined to comment on the new Archbishop but he is delighted by his own promotion, saying the Church was “like a second life for me”. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all float away to second lives on a river of oil money?

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