Business – Top accountant quits Shell

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has played down any further job losses among financial staff despite the sudden departure of one of its top accountants.

Phil Turberville, Shell’s head of European oil products and a member of the Scots ICA, resigned after putting together a major alliance with Texaco.

The decision was a further blow to the oil giant after last Friday’s revelation of redundancies among the 2,000 workforce at the Shell-Mex building in London.

The news came just two weeks after Shell’s group treasurer Steve Hodge said in an interview with Accountancy Age that economic pressures had left his finance team ‘generally feeling uncertain’.

A Shell spokeswoman said only 200 staff would lose their jobs, but added financial staff would be hit, with some being relocated. She could not confirm how many finance jobs would be axed but said ‘they fall across all activities’.

Chartered accountant Francis Dobbyn, a financial manager at Shell UK, could not confirm how many finance jobs would be lost or where the remainder would be located. He said: ‘We haven’t gone into that yet.’

Dobbyn said that Shell had been downsizing for six or seven years.

He added: ‘People are obviously not happy, but they do have some experience of it. Shell is a good employer and makes decent arrangements for those people whose jobs are brought to an end.’ He refused to comment on Turberville’s departure.

Turberville is believed to have planned the closure of four European headquarters in a bid to drive down costs after Shell saw its 1997 net income slide 21%.

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