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    Shell Shapes Up

    OP-One aims to boost profitability in oil products division.

    LONDON -- After Royal Dutch/Shell Group agreed last week to finalized settlements with U.S. and U.K. regulators, which will cost the oil giant $150.7 million over its mis-statement of proven oil reserves, the company is sharpening up its refineries and gas stations, and also undergoing an internal reorganization of those businesses as part of a broad plan -- called OP-One -- to help boost profitability in the company's oil products division, reported Dow Jones.

    Over the past year, Shell has shed stations and stakes in refineries stretching from Japan to Portugal to Peru, said the report. More sales are on the way as the world's No. 3 oil company gets serious about dumping assets where returns are too low and costs too high.

    Although the company would not confirm it, Merrill Lynch recently estimated that Shell had sold off $3.6 billion in assets so far this year, of which two-thirds were refining, marketing or chemical assets.

    In other Shell news, Shell Oil Products US will modify the transaction fees it charges to Shell-branded retailers and wholesalers to process credit and debit card purchases. The newly enhanced credit card program will lower overall bankcard fees approximately 10 cents on a $25 purchase by changing from a percentage-only structure to a hybrid rate.
    The new rates combine a percentage with a cents-per-transaction fee. Specifically for MasterCard and Visa transactions, which have the highest usage rates, the fee moves from 2.8 percent to 2 percent plus 10 cents.

    "Our new fee structure, large credit card deck and diverse portfolio of cards, combined with marketing programs designed to generate new accounts and improve cardholder loyalty, make Shell's credit card program extremely valuable to our retailers’ and wholesalers' bottom line," said David Bunch, manager of credit card for Shell Oil Products U.S.

    The new fee structure, which includes fee reductions on other credit cards, will go into effect Sept. 1 to coincide with a fourth quarter promotion supporting the credit card program, which will feature a national advertising and communications campaign including national radio, Internet and print.

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