updated 3/18/2004 8:04:50 AM ET 2004-03-18T13:04:50

Oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell announced a further downgrade of its oil reserves on Thursday and said it would delay publication of its annual report, due out on Friday, until May.

The company is already under heavy pressure from investors to come up with an explanation for why it had to cut its proven reserves in January by 3.9 billion barrels, or 20 percent.

Some of Thursday’s cut applies to 2002 and some to 2003, but amounts to a total cut of a further 470 million barrels. Its annual shareholders meeting was also postponed to June from April.

“This means about a quarter of what they’ve booked for 2003 goes into non-proven reserves,” said one trader. “Terrible.”

Shell’s troubles have sent shockwaves through the industry and have already cost the jobs of its two top executives.

Shell said an internal review was continuing and, “if additional actions are identified, they will be actioned and announced as appropriate.”

Shell’s shares in London were trading 3.43 percent lower at 359-1/4 pence at 1300 GMT.

giant Royal Dutch/Shell announced a further downgrade of its oil reserves on Thursday and said it would delay publication of its annual report, due out on Friday, until May.

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