Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Europe's biggest oil company, has said that its accounting for $7.4 billion in power trading options over the next twenty years met US standards.
Shell has agreed to pay generators $7.4 billion during that time for rights to sell power fueled by its own gas, a so called tolling agreement that may lose money if electricity prices fall. Shell used “aggressive” accounting to justify the trades, the Financial Times said, citing George Namur, a former Shell trader.
Energy companies are facing increased scrutiny following the bankruptcy of Enron, once the world's biggest power trader, and scandals at other US companies such as WorldCom. Shell Chairman Philip Watts in February said that the company's annual report contained everything investors needed to know.
“We take a very conservative approach to recognizing income from tolling agreements,” said Kate Hill, a Shell spokeswoman in London. The contracts “are all marked to market in accordance with US GAAP.”