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Daily Telegraph: Shell’s board survive: No wonder Shell is in such a mess

Daily Telegraph: Shell’s board survive: No wonder Shell is in such a mess

Here’s another lord in a lather. Oxburgh of Liverpool was probably out of breath when he arrived at the House of Lords for yesterday’s science and technology select committee meeting. For the previous four hours, the non-executive chairman of Shell’s UK business had delivered a (peerless?) master class in apologising for the oil and gas giant’s shocking loss of 23pc of its proven oil and gas reserves. It was a day for apologies at Shell’s annual meeting. Lord Oxburgh’s first one was for low-flying aircraft that might drown out his words.

On cue, a jet took off from nearby London City airport, drowning out his next apology (for Shell’s missing oil and gas). He then forecast a silver lining in “the particular black cloud that has hung over us for some months”. His colleagues on Shell’s flight deck sunk deeper into their seats.

As well they might. Lord Oxburgh claimed that the first Shell’s non-executives knew about the overstated reserves was in January when chairman of the committee of managing directors Sir Philip Watts ‘fessed up. This won’t do. What was Sir Mark Moody-Stuart doing? He was Sir Philip’s predecessor during the years when much of the unproven reserves were being added and is now a non-exec.

Shareholders hoping to find out answers from current Shellmeister Jeroen van der Veer were in the wrong country. He was in The Hague, answering questions at Shell’s Dutch agm. No wonder Shell is in such a mess, with directors in different countries trying to sing from the same corporate hymn sheet. At least changes to Shell’s structure might make that easier next year. Until then, that silver lining looks like being the oil price. If it was not riding so high, Shell’s corporate crisis would be far worse.

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