Shell: Ebola, operational risks are now 'acute'

The Ebola virus and tensions in the Middle East have yet to force Royal Dutch Shell to scale back its operations, but the oil major recognises that these risks are "acute and widespread," the chief financial officer of the firm told CNBC.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Tianjing, China, Simon Henry said that the Ebola virus is primarily an issue for the company's operations in Nigeria, where Shell employ 6,000 staff, 90 percent of which are Nigerian.

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An employee walks past a conveyor belt at a Royal Dutch Shell processing plant.
Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images
An employee walks past a conveyor belt at a Royal Dutch Shell processing plant.

New data released Tuesday by the World Health Organization show that there are 4,269 cases of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone with pockets of the disease in Nigeria and Senegal.

"It has not had a major operational impact, but it is something that we are watching very closely with the safety and the health of our employees and suppliers in the country, it is very much foremost in our decision making," Henry told CNBC.

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"Operational risk is part of what we do and something we face every day, but at this particular point in time, these risks do seem more acute and more widespread," he added.

Travel restrictions in and out of Nigeria have been put in place, Henry said, and in the Middle East the group is continuing to operate as normal, even in Iraq where there has been widespread violence.

"We produce in the south of Iraq, we produce in Eygpt, we produce in Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Oman – so quite a lot of activity in the region.

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"So far including in Iraq, our operations have not yet been affected, in fact they are proceeding very well in a relatively calm environment," he said.