A cynic might say they had seen it all before: New CEO of a big oil company, which is under pressure from shareholders, announces a wide-ranging restructuring that will make the company look like the much-admired industry leader.


Tony Hayward did it at BP in 2007 and Peter Voser, due to step up to the top job at Royal Dutch Shell Plc on July 1, did it on Wednesday.




Perhaps fearing that restructurings, like jokes, don’t amuse as much on the retelling, Shell went one further than BP. While the London-based oil major said it would adopt Exxon’s approach of standardising procedures across its businesses, Shell said it would redraw its business units in the mould of Exxon’s.


Despite this, the Anglo-Dutch oil major’s announcement failed to attract the warm reaction investors gave BP’s aping of Exxon. Shell’s shares fell and analysts said Shell was coming late to the cost cutting and standardisation game.


Is this fair?


Shell may be behind BP but it has not just discovered cost cutting. At least since January, the company has been sending regular emails to staff demanding they slash overheads and the cost of contractors.