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Shell meaningless management-speak phrases

Daily Telegraph: City comment: For a company that has so long considered itself top of the heap in the oil game, the humiliation inside can only be guessed at. Even Jeroen van der Veer, Shell’s top executive, had to admit the business was in crisis…”: “Shell’s slide show was ghastly. Meaningless management-speak phrases such as “fix and reset the business” and “growth in markets of choice” might have been designed to reassure, but instead showed that Shell’s problems extend beyond its reserves issue.”

Edited by Neil Collins

(Filed: 23/09/2004)

We’ll be running to standstill until 2009, says Shell

Shell unveiled its three-year plan in the appropriately-named Plaisterers’ Hall yesterday. Under a coat of arms with the motto ‘let brotherly love continue’, the shell-shocked senior executives did their best to cover up the cracks with smooth-finish plaster.

Alas, their efforts managed nothing of the kind. Desperate not to make promises that might not be met, the best that they could do was to project maintained production until 2009, by which time some of the results of spending $45billion on holes in the ground might be flowing through.

For a company that has so long considered itself top of the heap in the oil game, the humiliation inside can only be guessed at. Even Jeroen van der Veer, Shell’s top executive, had to admit the business was in crisis, after the admission earlier this year that nearly one in four of its “proven” barrels of oil and gas were not.

Shell’s slide show was ghastly. Meaningless management-speak phrases such as “fix and reset the business” and “growth in markets of choice” might have been designed to reassure, but instead showed that Shell’s problems extend beyond its reserves issue. It’s clear that those overbooked reserves will not be quickly replaced. This, the result of deciding not to spend money looking for new sources in the late 90s, was an admission that Shell’s handsome return on capital then now looks more like a return of capital today.

Painfully absent from yesterday’s presentation was any hint about reform of its introverted and outdated board structure. For that, we must wait until November, by which time one of the obviously successful models at Reed Elsevier or Rio Tinto should surely have been adopted – unless, of course, the Royal Dutch contingent blocks it.

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