The warning was given in the group's 1992 annual report, which gave a clear hint that the total number of staff could decline 'somewhat more significantly than in recent years'.
Last year the company cut staff numbers by around 6,000 to 127,000, compared with 133,000 in 1991 and 137,000 in 1990.
Shell is known to have set a target of reducing staff by about 4 per cent each year, but tough trading conditions in oil refining, petrol retailing and chemicals have led to a more aggressive programme. However, the group said that the number of lay- offs would continue to be determined by its local subsidiaries operating in about 100 countries.
In a foreword to the accounts, Sir Peter Holmes, who retires as Shell's chairman in June, said: 'Cost reduction and efficiency improvements should help profitability even under current weak market conditions. Improving the overall return on capital remains a priority.'
Shell increased group profits after tax by 28 per cent to pounds 3.1bn last year, although its return on capital amounted to 9.3 per cent, up from 8.4 per cent in 1991.
Sir Peter's salary package rose from pounds 547,000 to pounds 607,000 last year.Reuse content