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Shell Silences Critics

HOUSTON -- The Enron crisis has produced a change in the way analysts view Royal Dutch/Shell, silencing critics who once dismissed the oil giant as an anachronism in an era of fast-paced energy traders, Shell Chairman Phil Watts said.

"Two or three years ago there was a fad and a fashion about and we were being criticized for being a bit too conservative, a bit too slow, a bit too capital-intensive," Watts told the Cambridge Energy Research Associates conference.

At the same time, the crisis has prompted soul-searching within Royal Dutch/Shell over the issue of corporate governance. "We have certainly in our company taken a long hard look at the way we run the company," he said.

Watts rejected the suggestion that Shell's large cash resources were burning a hole in its pocket, but he gave little insight into possible acquisitions, which are viewed by many analysts as the best way to deploy its cash profitably.

"We've made it absolutely clear that acquisitions, divestments, mergers as well as organic growth are all part of the number of opportunities that we can take to grow value in the company," he told reporters.
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