Shell Paying $150 Million in Reserves Case

Shell ( SC) agreed Thursday to pay some $150 million to settle its reserves-overstatement case with U.S. and U.K. securities regulators.

The company said early Thursday that it reached agreements in principle to resolve investigations by the U.K.'s Financial Services Authority and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Without admitting or denying any wrongdoing, Shell agreed to pay 17 million pounds to resolve the U.K. case and $120 million to resolve the SEC action. Shell will also spend $5 million to develop an internal compliance program.

Shell stunned shareholders in January when slashed its proved reserves by 20%, sending its shares tumbling. Three other downgrades followed, for a total reduction in reserves of 23%, or 4.47 billion barrels, from previously reported levels. In the confusion surrounding the downgrades, Shell dismissed several top executives and delayed by two months the release of its annual report.

The company also said second-quarter profits rose 54% from a year ago, hitting $4 billion.

"The second quarter results show good progress in our downstream businesses, with operational performance improvement, increasing volumes and strong margins," Chairman Jeroen van der Veer said. "Second quarter earnings on a Current Cost of Supplies (CCS) basis in Oil Products increased by 59% over the same period a year ago and in Chemicals earnings were substantially higher than last year.

"We are attacking the challenges of performance in Exploration and Production where earnings were down by 3% and production was lower than a year ago. Earnings were impacted by exploration write offs, increase in taxes, mark to market losses in the North Sea and increased depreciation including the effect of lower reserves and exchange rates."

Early Thursday, Shell was flat at $43.14.

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