Dutch Pensions Sue Shell over Crude Reserve Losses

January 9, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Twenty six Dutch pension funds have hit oil giant Shell with a lawsuit filed in an attempt to recover losses the institutional investors charge were caused by Shell overstating its crude reserves.

According to media reports, the Dutch funds hold about 5% of Shell’s shares and are seeking $150 million in damages in the lawsuit filed in New Jersey by, among others, the Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP fund, one of Europe’s biggest. The suit names both current and former Shell staff, including chief executive Jeroen van der Veer.

In the suit, Shell is accused of making “materially false and misleading statements.” The oil company denied the claims made in the latest lawsuit and said it would “vigorously” defend itself.

The pension fund suit is that latest legal action to hit Shell after the firm admitted it had overstated reserves by more than 20%. Royal Dutch Shell shares tumbled after the news broke at the start of last year, causing investor anger.   In the selling   that followed the announcement, $15 billion was knocked off the company’s market value.

Shell already has agreed to pay out some compensation to settle other legal actions, and last year merged its Dutch and UK operations in an effort to revamp its business and win back investor trust (See Shell Agrees to $90M Pension Suit Settlement ).

Among the effects of the reserves controversy was a move  by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) to pressure Royal Dutch/Shell Group to require external auditing of its oil and gas reserves (See Institutional Investors Call for Shell Reserves Audit ).