Reuters blog archive
By Kevin Allison
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own
When a chief executive unexpectedly leaves to spend more time with his family, it's usually a cue to start a post-mortem into a failed tenure. Shell looks like an exception. Actually, it is shame Peter Voser is leaving. The Anglo-Dutch oil major could do worse than hope his successor mimics his ways.
Voser has been a steadying influence at Shell. He joined as CFO in 2004 in the wake of a reserves accounting scandal that cost Philip Watts, the one-time chairman, his job. Voser became CEO in 2009. The Swiss national can't claim all the credit for Shell's revival. He benefited from a rebuild programme initiated by Jeroen van der Veer, his predecessor, and from elevated oil prices.
Yet, Voser should be thanked for attacking Shell's unwieldy bureaucracy. He also deserves credit for keeping Shell a bit boring - striking a sensible balance between oil and gas while avoiding the missteps that have dogged some of its biggest competitors.
Unlike BP, Shell's safety record is passable despite pushing into technically challenging frontiers like deep-water drilling and liquefied natural gas. Unlike Exxon <XOM.N>, Shell took a measured approach to building up its presence in U.S. shale gas, rather than riling investors with the likes of a huge $31 billion bet on XTO Energy. The results have been pleasing for shareholders: since 2009, only Chevron has beaten Shell's total investment return of 54 percent among the global super-majors.
from Stories I’d like to see:
The Hagel fiasco:
I can’t get Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel’s awful Jan. 31 Senate confirmation testimony out of my head. I went back last week and watched most of it again. It was stunning, by far the worst performance by a high-level appointee I’ve ever seen or heard about. I’m not referring to Hagel’s gaffes, though there were some. I’m talking about pretty much everything he said after he read his opening statement. He seemed – is there a nice way to say this? – stupid.
Yet from what I’ve read, those who know him say he is far from stupid. I spent an hour interviewing him about 10 years ago and he seemed pretty sharp ‑ though it was for a profile of a friend of his, so the questions were hardly challenging.
By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. Exxon Mobil’s reticence to come clean about fracking makes Chesapeake Energy look good. That’s a rare feat - and hardly one to brag about. The troubled gas firm is infamously opaque. But its openness on the risks of fracking puts larger rivals like Exxon Mobil and Chevron to shame. After another large minority vote from investors for more information on this controversial practice, Big Oil should follow its troubled cousin’s lead.
from Tales from the Trail:
The Obama reelection team is out with a new ad today defending itself against allegations, advanced last week in an ad from the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, that billions of stimulus dollars meant to create "green energy" jobs in the U.S. had been spent instead on creating jobs abroad.
"Obama's clean energy initiatives have helped create jobs for projects across America, not overseas," the new ad insists, citing fact checks at Politifact and the Washington Post and suggesting that "Big Oil" was the force behind the AFP attack. The video, which will air in Ohio, Virginia, and Iowa, also alleges that Mitt Romney has outsourced jobs in the past, first as a CEO and then as governor of Massachusetts, and now supports tax breaks for companies that do the same. "It's just what you'd expect from a guy who had a Swiss bank account," the ad's narrator says.