Oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell has moved to quell fears over its level of reserves.
The firm – hit by a crisis in 2004 when it overstated such figures by a fifth – said its net reserves were unchanged at 11.9 billion barrels of oil at the end of last year.
"There's cause for more optimism, the reserves seem like they're there," said oil analyst Jason Kenney at financial group ING.
Shell has been hit by attacks on its Nigerian operations as well as the sale of part of its stake in Russia’s vast Sakhalin-2 field, leading to concerns over reserve levels.
But the company yesterday said that its reserves replacement ratio – the measure of how well it replaces the oil it takes out of the ground – was 109 per cent after the impact of acquisitions and sales, meaning the firm has found more oil and gas than it produced last year.
The group has also upped its estimates of its overall oil and gas resources to 66 billion barrels of oil – lasting 55 years – reflecting an improved exploration performance.
Chief executive Jeroen van der Veer added that the oil major was "rejuvenating its portfolio" for a world of higher and more volatile oil prices, which yesterday hit a new record of nearly $112 a barrel.
The company, which plans to spend around $25 billion (£12.3 billion) on capital expenditure this year, has projects under construction capable of producing more than 10 billion barrels of oil. Shell said this will help the business achieve long-term growth of between two and three per cent a year.
Projects include the Pearl offshore natural gas project in Qatar, and the Perdido project in the Gulf of Mexico, which will be the deepest subsea production project ever.
Mr van der Veer said: "Shell has a substantial set of growth opportunities. We have the largest investment programme in the industry today."
Measured under US Securities Exchange Commission rules, Shell's Reserves Replacement Rate (RRR), the rate at which production is matched with new finds, was only 17 per cent, down from 158 per cent in 2006.
This was due to the accounting treatment of the sale of part of its stake in the Sakhalin-2 project in Russia. The company said in January its RRR figure would be disappointing.
The focus on replacement rates reflects an industry-wide problem of adding new reserves as resource-holding nations increasingly hold back their best fields for their own national oil companies.
Among Shell's main rivals, BP has reported an RRR of over 100 per cent for 2007, but US-based Chevron has said its RRR was only 15 per cent. Total of France replaced 78 per cent of reserves excluding acquisitions and divestments; Exxon Mobil Corporation has yet to report its RRR for 2007.
The update from Shell comes just weeks after it reported annual profits of $27.6 billion (£13.6 billion) for 2007 – a record for a UK company which sparked calls for a windfall tax on the profits.
Richard Griffith, at Evolution Securities, said in a research note: "Much of the update is a restatement of the strategy that has been in place since 2004 and therefore the issue going forward is really about delivering this growth – an area in the past where Shell and BP have disappointed."