Maybe the oil industry is running out of reserves faster than it is letting on (see other blog), but Shell is to delay publication of key data about its oil reserves that it would normally have released alongside profits figures being published this week.

The decision is said to have disappointed some analysts, who have been told that the subject will not even be “up for discussion” and which has sparked concern the reserves numbers could be poor.

The amount of reserves booked by Shell is always a sensitive issue for the company as it was the revelation in 2004 that Europe’s largest oil firm had overstated the amount of oil in its wells that led to the resignation of chairman Sir Philip Watts and investigations by regulators in London and New York.

Analysts at Kleinwort Benson said the decision to now publish the data in May was “regrettable”. Another analyst said: “Since [the reserves scandal] Shell has been hot on releasing information to the market at its annual results. Putting it back doesn’t mean there’s a problem. But it doesn’t inspire confidence.”

Oh dear, I hope there is not another reserves crisis brewing….