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Indispensable for a fair trial: an independent, impartial Judge

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Indispensable for a fair trial: an independent, impartial Judge

By John Donovan

Last weekend, The Sunday Times devoted almost an entire double-page spread and their main editorial to a series of court cases  involving The Sunday Times that raised questions about whether judges should declare their interests.

The Sunday Times was being sued for libel and malicious falsehood by Peter Cruddas in relation to allegations about a “cash- for-access” report involving the Conservative party. 

After a senior judge Mr Justice Tugendhat, had initially found in favour of Mr Cruddas on all counts in July 2013, The Sunday Times found out that the judge had close family links to the Conservative party. One of his sons, Tom, was being adopted as a Tory candidate. 

Questions of transparency arose in respect of other judges who became involved in the case. Lady Justice Sharpe recused herself – standing aside voluntarily – only after the newspaper raised the subject twice after discovering her twin brother was a major Conservative donor.

Given the growing sensitivity about judicial transparency relating to the case, two  judges, Lord Justice Rupert Jackson and Lord Justice Christopher Clarke, involved in an appeal court hearing on the case, deemed it appropriate to disclose that they had connections with Tory party 40 years earlier. 

I found this all fascinating because of a court case I brought against Shell some years ago, which ended up in a three-week trial at the Royal Courts of Justice. Shell counter-claimed against my late father Alfred Donovan (then 82 years sold ) and me. 

The trial was heard by Mr Justice Laddie QC (now also deceased).  

Most would agree that a fair and just civil trial requires the following fundamentally essential ingredients:-

  • No intimidation of witnesses.
  • Full compliance with discovery obligations.
  • Ideally, an equal weight of arms in terms of legal representation.
  • Last, but not least, an independent, impartial Judge.

I will deal only with the last ingredient, other than to say that the first three were missing.

Because of certain extraordinary events that occurred during the trial, we wrote to the Judge after the trial asking him to confirm that he had no connection with Tom Moody-Stuart, the barrister son of the then Royal Dutch Shell Chairman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart.

The judge was well aware of the personal involvement of the Moody-Stuart family, as we had hand-delivered to the court, at the commencement of the trial, an astonishing hand-written letter my father had received from Lady Judy Moody Stuart, with a follow-up post card from her, which had arrived prior to the trial commencing.

The judge would not confirm or deny his connection with Tom Moody-Stuart, who also declined to comment.

We wrote some years later to the Lord Chancellor setting out the extraordinary events in the trial and questioning the impartiality of the judge.

We subsequently wrote to every MP, providing a link to our letter to the Lord Chancellor. We were also in extensive correspondence about Mr Justice Laddie, Shell and related matters, with then Prime Minister Tony Blair, via 10 Downing Street (and various government departments).

We published all of the correspondence on the Internet.

Thus, Mr Justice Laddie was undoubtedly well aware of our views and was placed in a very difficult position, with his credibility and reputation being publicly called into question at the highest levels of the state.

The correspondence ended on 21 April 2005.

By coincidence or otherwise, just eight weeks later, Mr Justice Laddie resigned in controversial circumstances (June 2005). As a result of all of the press coverage of the controversy, we became aware that Laddie had an even stronger connection with Shell that he had not disclosed. He joined the IP consultancy firm of his long time friend Tony Willoughby, which had Shell as a long-term client.

Shortly thereafter, Professor Sir Hugh Laddie was a speaker at a seminar organised by a Shell Legal Director who had been in attendance at the trial on a daily basis.

Doubts were raised about the reason the judge gave for his resignation (boredom), which caused a sensation in legal circles. John Walsh, a writer for The Independent newspaper asked, “What is one to make of the behaviour of Sir Hugh Laddie, better known as Mr Justice Laddie…”

Mr Justice Laddie was the first High Court Judge to resign for 35 years. He certainly seemed to have something on his mind.

Tragically, he passed away in 2008 as a result of cancer.

It was clear from tributes made at the time that he was a much liked and widely respected Judge.

I have no doubt that he was a decent man of high integrity and immense knowledge and expertise, fully deserving of the many tributes made to him by family, friends and colleagues.

However, having acknowledged his qualities and the respect in which he was widely and properly held, I have to say that we would never have agreed to him hearing the case if I had known of his undisclosed Shell connections.

There is not just the issue of deliberate bias, but unconscious bias.

Shell settled the case out-of-court, so there was no verdict in the normal sense.

However, the judge did insist on putting on the public record what are known as “Judges Comments” that were blatantly biased against me and in favour of Shell.

Shell had withheld the true terms of settlement from the Judge. This is confirmed in an email sent to me by the same Shell Legal Director on 17 June 2008. (I did not know at the time of the trial that this information had been withheld from the Judge)

Consequently, at the time of making his injudicious comments, which Shell later used against me, the Judge was totally unaware that Shell had paid my legal fees and that I had received a secret payment. He thought I had surrendered when in fact it was the other way round. I would not agree to settle without at least a token, but not insubstantial payment.

Shell had already settled three previous high court actions I had brought for breach of confidence and breach of contract, all featuring the same dishonest Shell executive involved in the case heard by Mr Justice Laddie QC. Shell also settled two libel actions we brought against the company.

Big organisations such as the Conservative party and Royal Dutch Shell have far-reaching tentacles. It is essential, in the interests of justice, that judges openly declare any connections with any party involved in litigation being decided by them.

There is already a lack of a level playing field when David is fighting a financial Goliath, as was the case with my action against Shell.

It makes it even more vital that the impartiality of the judge is beyond reproach.

Legal action hopes to make Shell port-less in Seattle

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 08.56.29Article by Kevin McGwin published 26 March 2015 by The Arctic Journal under the headline:

What the Shell is going on? Legal action hopes to make Shell port-less in Seattle

On March 22, The Guardian, a British media outlet popular among the left-of-centre, announced that Shell’s approval to resume its Alaska drilling programme this summer appeared imminent.

Nothing is certain, but the assumption is that Sally Jewell, the US interior secretary, will indeed affirm a recommendation by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, a regulator, that the 2008 sale of drilling licences to Shell and several other firms be permitted to stand.

The BOEM, which falls under Ms Jewell’s jurisdiction, had been ordered by a court last year to review the $2.6 billion sale of eight licence areas after conservation groups challenged the federal environmental impact assessment that cleared the way for the deal.

SEE RELATED: Offshore oil: Not in my lifetime

The BOEM issued its recommendation on February 12, starting a 30-day waiting period during which Ms Jewell was to decide how to proceed. She can accept or reject the decision, or ask to have it modified. The period ended on March 25, and an announcement should be made any day now.

Despite the expectation that she will abide by the BOEM’s recommendation, Ms Jewell, a former executive with REI, a Seattle-based retailer of high-end outdoor kit, has appeared to ride the fence, noting in statements that Alaska has “substantial oil and gas potential” yet at the same time pointing to its “sensitive marine and coastal resources”.

Environmental groups say that it is the latter – and an official calculation that there is a 75% likelihood that the Alaska offshore drilling could lead to a major spill (over 1,000 barrels) in the 77 years the fields could be expected to be active – that she should be most concerned about.

Ms Jewell, however, has described the BOEM’s review positively, saying it struck a balance between all concerns, fuelling expectations that she will allow the sale to stand.

SEE RELATED: A clear and presidential opportunity

Should it indeed come to pass that she gives Shell the go-ahead, it would pave the way for the firm to resume drilling activities in the Chukchi Sea, which have lain dormant since 2012, mostly due to outside legal challenges. Federal regulators note that, with the exception of the dramatic grounding of the Kulluk, a drill ship used by Shell, at the end of the 2012 season, the firm’s reputation in Alaska is exceptional.

Shell would still need to pass several other hurdles before it could legally resume its activities. It must also have its rigs in place in time for the drilling season to begin, probably in July. In order to make sure that happens, it has already begun shipping two rigs across the Pacific Ocean. Their likely destination is Seattle, which recently signed a deal to lease port facilities to Foss Marine, a firm Shell has contracted to service its rigs.

They should be there by April. By that time, Ms Jewell will certainly have issued her decision, but the fracas over Shell’s use of the Seattle’s port will still be in full swing.

This week, the city council, which has already voiced its concern about being associated with Arctic oil drilling, sent a letter to Ms Jewell, as a fellow Seattlite, not to reinstate Shell’s lease. Their effort is unlikely to sway her decision, but it plays well among city voters.

SEE RELATED: Capricious no longer

One thing is getting a cool welcome from the city, more problematic for Shell, though, could be a decision by a state judge last week agreeing to hear a case challenging that port authorities failed to abide by state regulations requiring that an environmental assessment be carried out.

The group, a mix of five national and local organisations, argue that the facility is approved for cargo handling. Fixing drilling equipment, does not fall under that definition, they say. They are now hoping the judge will issue a decision before the rigs arrive.

If the decision is in the environmentalist’s favour, they will be credited with causing the storm that denied Shell any port.

SOURCE

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Corrib Gas still set to flow this year, says Shell spokesperson

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 16.37.36Shell E&P Ireland says it is still on schedule to have gas flowing from the Corrib Gas Field within the next six months.

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An 800 metre section of a water discharge pipe, which will carry treated surface water from the terminal at Bellanaboy in north Mayo 12 kilometres out to sea once the plant is opertional, had come loose from the seabed and was floating on the surface of Broadhaven Bay two weeks ago.

However, the problem has not had any impact on the target date to have gas flowing by the middle of this year.

A spokesperson for Shell E&P Ireland said the ducting has now been temporarily repositioned on the seabed and remediation work is ongoing to find a more permanent solution within the next few weeks.

“It is a plastic ducting pipe, 10 inches in diameter, and has no impact at all on the gas pipeline,” said the spokesperson.

“We don’t expect this to have an impact in terms of first gas,” he added.

The Corrib gas project has been one of the most controversial infrastructural developments in the history of the Irish state.

The project, which involves an 83 kilometre off shore gas pipeline and an eight kilometre onshore pipeline, became bogged down in community opposition 10 years ago when a number of local people refused to allow Shell to carry out work on their lands along the then permitted pipeline route.

While much of the local community opposition to the project has subsided, getting the gas flowing will not bring to an end entirely to the opposition and scrutiny the project has faced, according to a spokesperson for the group Shell to Sea.

Terence Conway said Shell to Sea will continue to oppose Shell’s presence in north Mayo, even after gas starts flowing.

“We are commited to keeping our campaign going,” he said on Wednesday. “We intend to hold the state to account for their shortcomings on what has happened here.”

He says the group are now concentrating on trying to bring about a European enquiry into the Corrib gas saga.

The Corrib Gas Field was discovered in 1996 and the Corrib project partners are Shell E&P Ireland Ltd., Statoil Exploration and Vermillion Energy.

The field is located 83 kilometres off the north Mayo coast.

At peak production, the gas field is expected to meet 60 per cent of Ireland’s gas needs and provide an energy supply for up to 20 years.

SOURCE

Shell conducts drills with Arctic oil spill response system

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 08.56.29From an article by Jennifer A. Dlouhy published 26 March 2015 by fuelfix.com

Shell conducts drills with Arctic oil spill response system

WASHINGTON — Shell’s Arctic oil spill response system is undergoing drills in waters near Bellingham, Washington, with government officials observing the exercises.

Shell Oil Co. is conducting the testing as it plans a new round of exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska later this year.

Shell’s last venture, in 2012, was cut short when the emergency containment system was damaged during a deployment test — preventing the equipment from making it to the Arctic in time to safeguard drilling into oil- and gas-bearing zones more than 1,000 feet below the sea floor.

Read more: Shell committed to Arctic drilling, despite setback

The system, carried and deployed from the Arctic Challenger barge, was later repaired and certified.

But while new certifications are not needed for Shell’s proposed 2015 drilling, the exercises — set to begin in earnest Friday morning and span several days — are designed to put the equipment through its paces for regulators who will decide whether the company wins other critical government approvals.

“Although the Arctic Challenger was certified by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and U.S. Coast Guard in late 2012, we volunteered to demonstrate its capabilities to regulators in advance of 2015 drilling,” said Curtis Smith, a Shell spokesman.

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director Brian Salerno and Assistant Interior Secretary Janice Schneider are among the officials set to watch as the containment system is deployed, at Shell’s invitation.

U.S. Coast Guard inspectors also are on the scene “to witness the readiness of the crew, confirm the seaworthiness of the vessel and ensure compliance to U.S. and international laws, regulations and standards,” said a safety bureau spokesman.

FULL ARTICLE

Motiva to integrate Norco, Convent refineries in Louisiana

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Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 21.31.0326 March 2015

(Reuters) – Motiva Enterprises said on Thursday that operations at its Convent and Norco, Louisiana, refineries will be integrated to take advantage of increased production of lower-cost U.S. shale oil.

Motiva, which is co-owned by Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Saudi Aramco, said the first step in the integration project is the construction of the Maurepas pipeline system that will bring advantaged crude to the Norco refinery and connect the production systems at the two plants.

After the three-pipeline system is in place, Motiva plans to idle the 92,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) at the 235,000 bpd Convent refinery.

The company will also expand by 30,000 bpd the hydrocracking unit at the 238,000 bpd Norco refinery. The Norco hydrocracker currently can process 40,000 bpd of gas oil produced by crude distillation units.

Gas oil produced by the Convent refinery will go to the expanded hydrocracker and 112,000 bpd catalytic cracking unit at the Norco plant.

Diesel, the primary motor fuel produced by hydrocrackers, has become a lucrative export for U.S. Gulf Coast refiners.

“Through the implementation of these projects, we are creating a world-scale, integrated refining system that leverages the best aspects of our two Louisiana refineries in Convent and Norco,” said Dan Romasko, president and chief executive of Motiva in a statement.

Valero Energy Corp has already undertaken a similar shift in production at its Louisiana refineries. Last year, Valoero idled the FCCU at its 125,000 bpd Meraux, Louisiana, refinery and expanded the hydrocracker. Valero now relies on its 205,000 bpd St. Charles refinery in Norco for gasoline production.

The combined plants would be smaller than Motiva’s Port Arthur refinery, the largest in the United States, which the company says has capacity of up to 620,000 bpd.

At the ground level, the Louisiana Refining System, as Motiva plans to call the interconnected plants, will look a lot like two separate refineries, said people familiar with company plans.

Salaried staff may be combined, but hourly employees, who are represented by the United Steelworkers union (USW), will continue to operate separately.

“It’s not really a merger,” said one of the sources. “Convent’s going to shut down its cat cracker and sell the gas oil that would have gone to it to Norco.”
The sources said Motiva plans to complete the integration by the end of 2017. Motiva did not comment on the timeline for the project.

(Reporting By Houston Newsroom; Editing by Ken Wills)

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Why Shell Is Cutting Jobs In The North Sea

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Here’s Why Royal Dutch Shell Is Cutting Jobs In The North Sea

By: MICHEAL KAUFMAN: Published: Mar 26, 2015 at 1:13 pm EST

Royal Dutch Shell plc. (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) has announced to cut 250 jobs in the UK North Sea region. The move comes ahead of more than 50% decline in crude oil prices. As a result, life in the exploration and production companies has become difficult. The job cut announced by Shell comes just a week after the announcement of the treasury to offer tax cuts in order to stimulate growth in the industry.

The North Sea oil and gas sector holds great value to the state. The sector employs over 400,000 people and is estimated to have a worth around $7.47 billion. Despite the massive size of the sector, investment activity is slow. This is due to the high costs of production faced by the energy companies due to higher taxes and lower crude oil prices. Thus the tax cut by Britain was aimed at promoting investment in the sector.

As reported by the Financial Times, Shell has indicated that the decision was made in line with its cost cutting strategies. The move is also expected to improve the Den Haag based company’s competitive performance and operations around the world.

Royal Dutch Shell plc. (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) has announced to cut 250 jobs in the UK North Sea region. The move comes ahead of more than 50% decline in crude oil prices. As a result, life in the exploration and production companies has become difficult. The job cut announced by Shell comes just a week after the announcement of the treasury to offer tax cuts in order to stimulate growth in the industry.

The North Sea oil and gas sector holds great value to the state. The sector employs over 400,000 people and is estimated to have a worth around $7.47 billion. Despite the massive size of the sector, investment activity is slow. This is due to the high costs of production faced by the energy companies due to higher taxes and lower crude oil prices. Thus the tax cut by Britain was aimed at promoting investment in the sector.

As reported by the Financial Times, Shell has indicated that the decision was made in line with its cost cutting strategies. The move is also expected to improve the Den Haag based company’s competitive performance and operations around the world.

Shell has also indicated that it plans to move towards a more even time rota. This would mean that the company would try to adopt a three weeks on, three weeks off pattern compared to the traditional two weeks on, two to three weeks off. The Shell will forward the suggestion to the staff committee for further discussion.

Meanwhile, the trade unions are opposing the decision to change the shift patterns. Trade unions, Unite and GMB are calling on their members to strike against the change in shift patterns. As reported by Reuters, the regional organizer at Unite, John Taylor said that if the change in the shift policy is adopted, it would spread like cancer in the North Sea. This for this reason that the Union has opposed the decision.

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Shell led Corrib Gas Pipeline Project comes unstuck

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Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 16.37.36Article by Norma Costello published 23 March 2015 by vice.com under the headline:

A Massive Pipe Came Loose in an Atlantic Gas Field and Irish Environmentalists Are Not Happy

The Corib Gas pipeline project by the Western Irish fishing village of Rossport, County Mayo, has always been a source of controversy. It was established amid arrests and police batons, against the wishes of locals and environmental protesters. The project is supposed to start pumping gas this summer, and those activists remain convinced that extracting fossil fuels from an area famed for its natural beauty is a bad idea.

Just over a week ago, an 800 metre pipe that was supposed to be fixed to the sea-bed floated to the surface. Feeling that their fears may have been justified, local activists are demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) looks into it. I contacted the EPA who had previously said they would be investigating the issue. When I asked whether members of the EPA would visit the site, I was told they “don’t consider it necessary at this time”.

I spoke to Phillip Robinson from Shell about the incident and asked him what was in the dislodged pipes. “Last Friday 800 metres of plastic ducting that brings treated waste water 12 kilometres out to the Atlantic rose to the surface – previously it was on the sea bed. The 20 inch diameter offshore gas pipeline, which is made of high strength steel, has not been impacted,” he said.

Despite Philip’s assertions that the pipe did not carry pollutants, locals in the area are angry that the EPA has not visited the site. Local fisherman Pat “the chief” O’Donnell says the Irish authorities are ignoring problems facing the gas project. “The pipes dislodge and where’s the EPA? Where are the Gardai for that matter, or the media? It’s clear they’re all just arms for the state and in this state, whatever Shell says is gospel,” he said.

Maura Harrington who has been involved in the Shell to Sea Campaign for 15 years says the EPA’s refusal to visit the site is “madness”.

“The EPA are supposed to be a scientific body, but how the hell can they know what’s going on if they don’t send someone to check out the situation? It’s absolute madness to ‘investigate’ without sending someone to the site that needs to be investigated,” she said.

The gas project is already mired in scandal. Private security companies hired by Shell were accused of intimidating locals and activists while footage of Gardai beating protesters caused outraged throughout the country. The controversy reached its zenith when one un-vetted private security company worker, Michael Dwyer, was murdered by Bolivian special forces, after allegedly being part of a planned presidential assassination with people he met while working at Rossport.

Pat O’Donnell, who went to prison for breach of the peace during protests against the project says the community is lucky Shell have not already started to transport raw gas inland. “We’re blessed they hadn’t started production or the whole fishing industry and my livelihood would be ruined. This is why I went to jail, so things like this wouldn’t happen,” he said.

Shell expect to go on stream this year and Ireland’s hugely unpopular Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny – who is from Mayo – is rumoured to be attending the opening of the Corrib pipe this summer. When I contacted the Taoiseach’s office to get confirmation of this I was told they cannot give details of the Taoiseach diary out in advance because of security risks. I suppose if you were one of Ireland’s most hated men you’d probably want to keep your calendar pretty private too.

Pat O’Donnell says if the project goes on steam this summer, Rossport will face an uncertain future. “When I was in jail, BP blew up off the Gulf of Mexico. That was my worst fear playing itself out in real life,” he said. “We’re dealing with raw gas here. When you have raw gas coming in, you have loads of heavy metals like mercury coming with it. Shell keep saying they use the best available technology but judging by last week – well you can make your own conclusions.”

Shell insists that the loose pipe has no impact on the gas pipeline, but the EPA’s decision not even to investigate the incident will do nothing to quell the fears of the locals.

@normcos

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Shell takes further steps away from Nigeria

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 18.29.05Article by Daniel J. Graeber published 26March 2015 by UPI

Shell takes further steps away from Nigeria

ABUJA, Nigeria, March 26 (UPI) — The Nigerian subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell said it made further progress in its divestment strategy by selling Niger Delta assets from $1.7 billion.

Shell Petroleum Development Co. of Nigeria said it completed the sale of oil mining lease 29 and the 62-mile long Nembe Creek pipeline to Aiteo Eastern E&P Co., a Nigerian company.

“This divestment is part of the strategic review of SPDC’s onshore portfolio and is in line with the federal government of Nigeria’s aim of developing Nigerian companies in the country’s upstream oil and gas business,” the Dutch supermajor said in a Wednesday statement.

Shell last week sold its stake in oil mining lease 30 to a separate rival for $737 million.

Divested fields produced around 43,000 barrels of oil per day for Shell last year. Infrastructure sold to Aiteo was commissioned in 2010 to deliver Nigeria’s Bonny light crude oil to process terminals.

Shell said the terminal itself was not part of the transaction with its Nigerian counterpart and remains in the hands of the Dutch supermajor.

Amnesty International expressed frustration with Shell and its Italian counterparts at Eni over the legacy of oil spills in the Niger Delta region. The rights group said the two companies combined to report more than 550 spills in the area last year.

Shell in 2013 said the rising operational challenges in Nigeria, including theft of crude by organized gangs and pipeline vandal attacks, had eroded its profit margin by $250 million.

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Shell to cut more UK North Sea jobs in 2015

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Thursday 26 March 2015

(Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) is planning further job cuts in its UK North Sea oil and gas business in 2015, the company said on Thursday, just a week after a package of tax cuts from the Treasury aimed at encouraging growth in the industry.

“Shell UK plans to reduce the number of staff and agency contractors who support the company’s UK North Sea operations by at least 250 in 2015,” Shell said in an emailed statement.

The reduction is in addition to 250 job losses announced in August, Shell said, and follows North Sea job cuts by BP (BP.L), Talisman Sinopec, Chevron and ConocoPhillips.

Britain’s North Sea oil and gas sector employs over 400,000 people and is worth about 5 billion pounds ($7.47 billion) a year to the state. But investment activity has stalled due to a combination of high costs, high taxes and falling oil prices.

Last week, Britain announced a raft of oil tax cuts and an investment allowance with the aim of stimulating investment and production, heeding calls for help from battered North Sea oil and gas companies battling high costs and the price slump.

While these measures were broadly welcomed by the industry, some participants expressed reservations about whether they were sufficient to make a material difference without a rebound in the oil price.

Paul Goodfellow, upstream vice president for the UK and Ireland at Shell, said that while reforms to the fiscal regime were a “step in the right direction”, the industry needed to redouble its efforts to tackle costs and improve profitability if the North Sea was to continue to attract investment.

Shell also said that a decision had been made in principle to move to an “even time rota”. As a result, a three weeks on, three weeks off shift pattern – as opposed to the more traditional two weeks on, two or three weeks off – will be put forward for consultation with the staff committee.

Trade unions Unite and GMB are already balloting their members working offshore to gauge appetite for strike action over changes to shift patterns, which have already been introduced by some operators.

“We think this cancer will spread throughout the North Sea,” said John Taylor, regional industrial organiser at Unite. “We are totally opposed to the introduction of three on, three off.”

The ballot will close on March 27. “We expect an overwhelming majority in favour of strike action,” he said.

(Reporting by Alex Lawler and Claire Milhench; editing by Susan Thomas)

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Royal Dutch Shell to cut another 250 North Sea jobs and increase its staff working hours to ‘stay competitive’

Shell boss paid £20m for a year in which oil price slumped and group cut UK jobs

Shell sees only 15%-20% of Canada LNG projects advancing

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 08.45.23Article by Carl Surran published 25March 2015 by SeekingAlpha.com

Shell sees only 15%-20% of Canada LNG projects advancing

A top executive at Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) says he expects only 15%-20% of liquefied natural gas export projects already approved by the Canadian government to go ahead in the next decade.

Markus Hector, Shell’s general manager of global LNG, says the low forecast success rate is partly due to the scale of the infrastructure projects and the competition for people with the skills to build them.

Shell itself is the lead partner in a consortium planning the LNG Canada facility on British Columbia’s northern coast and is not expected to make a final investment decision until at least 2016.

SOURCE

Nigeria: Shell completes $1.7 billion sale of Nigerian assets to Aiteo

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Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 11.37.41Shell completes $1.7 billion sale of Nigerian assets to Aiteo

ABUJA (Reuters) – Oil major Shell said on Wendesday it completed the sale of its 30 percent stake in the Nigerian oil block 29 and the Nembe Creek trunk line to Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Co for $1.7 billion.

Total and Eni’s Nigerian arms also assigned their interests of 10 percent and 5 percent, respectively, to Aiteo, which ended up with a 45 percent interest in total for both assets.

(Reporting By Julia Payne; Editing by Tim Cocks)

© Thomson Reuters 2015 All rights reserved

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Royal Dutch Shell Sells More Nigeria Assets for $1.7 Billion Cash

Extract

“This divestment is part of the strategic review of SPDC’s onshore portfolio and is in line with the Federal Government of Nigeria’s aim of developing Nigerian companies in the country’s upstream oil and gas business,” Shell said in a statement.

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Nigeria’s Bonny light under pressure of crude oil price decline

John Donovan invited by Irish Justice Minister to provide evidence to Irish Police Ombudsman Commission

John Donovan, Co-founder Royal Dutch Shell Plc.com

John Donovan, Co-founder Royal Dutch Shell Plc.com

Email sent by John Donovan to Garda Slochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) 25 March 2015

SHELL CORRUPTION OF IRISH POLICE AS ADMITTED BY ITS AGENT/CONTRACTOR: OSSL

Dear Sirs

I attach for your information a copy of a letter dated 12 March 2015 from Ms Frances Fitzgerald, T.D., Irish Minister for Justice and Equality, addressed to Mr Bernard J Durkan TD. 

This is similar in content to replies sent recently to other T.D’s – all of whom kindly took this matter up with the Minister on my behalf, who has now invited me to supply the GSOC with evidence.

I want to keep this simple, so I will restrict my comments to one item of evidence which has already been supplied, but not acted upon, plus important items of evidence that have emerged since the GSOC Report published in July 2014.

The item of evidence already supplied is an OSSL VAT invoice to Shell EP Ireland detailing the procurement and delivery of free alcohol given to the Garda at the express instruction of Shell.

If in fact no alcohol was purchased and delivered, then the raising of a false VAT invoice sent to Shell demanding payment must surely constitute a crime?

Please note that Shell has admitted receiving the invoice and has not denounced it as being false.

Have Irish VAT officers investigated the authenticity of the OSSL invoice for alcohol apparently purchased in Northern Ireland and transported (smuggled?) across the border?

If not, why not? 

Strange tale of Shell’s pipeline battle, the Gardaí and £30,000 of booze

If the invoice is fictitious and the related OSSL allegations false, OSSL directors would by now have been arrested and charged for forging a VAT invoice and using it in an attempt to blackmail its former client, Shell EP Ireland. 

THE NEW EVIDENCE NOT YET CONSIDERED BY THE GSOC

I did bring this new information to the attention of the Garda in my email to Supt. Patrick Diskin dated 16 November 2014.  I received a response from him two days later in which he advised that he had forwarded the correspondence to Superintendent Joseph McKenna. I heard nothing further from the Garda despite the importance of the information I supplied.

I can only assume that the blackmail allegations were unfounded, otherwise why have they not been taken up by Shell or the police? OSSL have always insisted on their innocence on that score, but have admitted to distributing bribes to the Garda and other parties on behalf of Shell in respect of the Corrib Gas Project. 

THE EVIDENCE

A 42 minute covertly recorded consultation between senior lawyer Mr Marc Fitzgibbon, representing Dublin Solicitors Lavelle, and their then clients, Mr Desmond Kane and Mr Neil Rooney representing OSSL

The audio file can be accessed here

An associated transcript of the covertly recorded consultation.

(Some of the more interesting parts are highlighted in red text.)

Related emails from Marc Fitzgibbon about the non-existent police alcohol.

A letter marked “Private & Confidential” dated 21 October 2014 sent to Desmond Kane of OSSL by Marc Fitzgibbon. The letter details telephone calls Lavelle received from Shell requesting a conference call with Mr Fitzgibbon, to include several Shell staff, including specifically Michael Crothers, the CEO of Irish Shell. This was immediately after I threatened to publish the covertly recorded discussion.

The telephone calls suggest that the existence of the covertly recorded consultation with Marc Fitzgibbon, in which the subject of alcohol given to the Irish police was raised over 60 times, triggered a panicked response from Shell.

All of this fuss over alcohol that the Irish authorities claim never existed.

Yours sincerely

John Donovan

THE LETTER FROM IRISH JUSTICE MINISTER FRANCES FITZGERALD DATED 12 MARCH 2015

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UPDATE THURSDAY 26 MARCH 2015

EXTRACT FROM POSTING ON SHELL BLOG IN RESPONSE TO ABOVE ARTICLE

Dear Mr Donovan,

It would appear you are not aware that the Minister and the Police Commissioner together with past and present CEOs of Shell Ireland are stifling the passing of the key information that proves beyond a doubt that the alcohol was sent by Shell and received by named police officers.

EXTRACT ENDS

An acknowledgement email dated 26 March 2015 has been received from the Private Secretary of the Irish Minister for Justice and Equality. 

I wish to acknowledge receipt of your email.
__________________
Christopher Quattrociocchi
Private Secretary

We now have a speedy response from the Irish Police Ombudsman Commission

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission

From: Ciaran Kelly <[email protected]>

To: “johndonovan”
Subject: GSOC REF: 780242-03-15
Date: 26 March 2015 11:13:12 GMT

GSOC REF: 780242-03-15
(Please quote this reference no. when contacting the GSOC)

26 March 2015

Dear Mr Donovan

I am directed by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (“GSOC”) to acknowledge receipt of your correspondence dated 26 March 2015.

The content of your correspondence will be considered and an admissibility determination made if the information you have provided fits the criteria for a complaint. If however additional information is required we will write to you once asking specific questions. We will give you some time to answer the questions but there will be a deadline after which GSOC will review the file and may decide to close it at that point.

We will be in contact with you again in the near future. In the meantime I am enclosing an Information Leaflet which tells you about the first steps in the complaints process.

Should you wish to receive correspondence by post please respond to this email with your postal address details.

Please do not hesitate to contact the office if you have any queries in relation to the matter.

Yours sincerely
________________
Ciaran Kelly

Case Officer | Garda Ombudsman | 150 Upper Abbey Street | Dublin 1
01-8716637
Garda Ombudsman

INQUIRY INDEPENDENCE IMPARTIALITY

Royal Dutch Shell cuts IT contractor pay rates by 15%: Accept or face termination!

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 11.45.10An article published 25 March 2015 by ContractorUK.com under the headline:

Royal Dutch Shell cuts IT contractor pay rates

Royal Dutch Shell has reduced pay for IT contractors, telling such temporary technology workers to lower their rates by 15% or face termination.

The Angel-Dutch oil giant told ContractorUK that current market volatility has made the need to reduce costs “across our business” more urgent.

But a Shell spokesman suggested that the company hasn’t just singled out IT contractors, as it is currently “pursuing a number of [other] initiatives to manage costs”.

He declined to be drawn on how Shell arrived at the figure of 15% as the cut IT contractors have been asked to make, even when reminded that BP has reduced rates by the same margin.

The cuts for IT contractors at both companies come after a prolonged fall in the oil price, which has more than halved since the summer of 2014.

In its latest financial report, Shell reflected: “Prolonged periods of low oil and gas prices… could result in projects being delayed or cancelled and/or in the impairment of some assets

“They may also impact our ability to maintain our long-term investment programme.”

The Shell spokesman said the thinking behind the rate reduction was to “improve the competitive performance of the business, in accordance with our global corporate strategy.”

The spokesman added: “This includes working with our contractors to identify opportunities to improve efficiency and performance.”

But one affected Shell contractor working at the company’s Projects & Technology unit doesn’t feel like he’s been treated like much of a partner.

“We have just 2 days to accept [the 15% rate cut] or our contract is up”, he said.

“Little does the CEO know that I [am going to] leave… [so] it should be interesting to see what happens.”

For those IT contractors thinking of fighting the rate reduction, a contracts lawyer cautioned that there was little chance that Shell has left itself exposed.

“It depends on the terms of the contract; but if Shell has a right to terminate the contract on ‘X’ days notice (or by immediate notice), then they also have the right to say the following:

“‘you have ‘X’ days to consider whether or not to accept this change, and if you do not accept it then your contract will end,’” said Roger Sinclair, a legal consultant at egos.

The Shell spokesman said: “Shell seeks to maintain competitive rates for products and services, commensurate with relevant market developments.”

SOURCE

Anti-Shell Protest at White House

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From an article by Liz Ruskin published 24 March 2015 by Alaska Public Media under the headline:

26th Anniversary of Exxon Spill Prompts anti-Shell Protest at White House

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 11.29.47It’s the 26th anniversary of America’s second largest oil spill, when an Exxon tanker leaving Valdez Arm ran aground, leaking 11 million gallons of North Slope Crude into Prince William Sound. In Washington D.C., environmental activists marked the occasion with a demonstration in front of the White House. Their message was less about Exxon and tanker safety than it was about Shell and its plans to drill in the Chukchi Sea.

“Hey, Obama: Yes you can! Stop Shell Oil’s dirty plan,” the crowd chanted.

Dozens of people gathered at lunchtime outside the White House fence. They carried big photos of oiled animals and signs that say “oil kills” and “I heart Arctic.” No one wore a polar bear suit, but there was a girl cocooned in a giant sandpiper costume. She says she’s Liszka Bessenyey, of Anchorage.

“I’m 15-years-old,” Bessenyey said, from inside the bird suit. “I’m a freshman at Service High School.”

Many of the demonstrators work at Washington-based environmental groups. Others, like the sandpiper, were in the capital for “wilderness week” an annual campaign on Capitol Hill to advance environmental priorities. One speaker at the megaphone was Allison Warden, an Inupiaq performance artist with roots in Kaktovik.

“My people will no longer be Inupiaq because we won’t be able to live off the land and off the water in the way that we’ve been,” Warden said. “So, every single one of you listening here, it’s important for you to stand up.”

Inupiaq leaders, including North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower, were just in Washington, arguing in favor of Arctic development, including oil drilling in the Arctic Refuge. ButWarden says the people she talks to are worried that drilling offshore will disrupt the whale migration, particularly if there’s a spill.

“It would permanently change our relationship to the ocean and to the animals,” Warden said. “They would be in a different state. And our culture that revolves around the whale would no longer be the same.”

Shell has said it wants to return to drill in the Chukchi Sea this summer but it has several legal and logistical hurdles to clear. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is expected to announce within the week its record of decision on Lease Sale 193, which includes Shell’s leases in the Chukchi, following a lawsuit. Assuming the leases are reaffirmed, it’s not the final green light.

“Shell still needs to get an exploration plan approval and the permits that are associated with that,” says Peter Van Tuyn, an Anchorage environmental lawyer — and the father of the giant sandpiper girl. He’s closely following Shell’s permitting process, on alert for flaws.

“The exploration plan should be a major hurdle, absolutely, because there are such fundamental challenges to drilling in the Arctic and that’s the place where those specific challenges need to be addressed in the permitting scheme,” he said.

Shell has repeatedly said it won’t resume its Arctic drilling program unless it’s sure it can do so safely and responsibly.

SOURCE

Nigeria: Oil Spill – Era/FoEN Accuses Shell of Denying Communities JIV Reports

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“THE NIGER DELTA, Nigeria—Oil is so cheap these days that for people around here, it isn’t even worth stealing anymore.”

An article by Igoniko Oduma published 24 March 2015 by AllAfrica.com/Daily Independent (Lagos):

Nigeria: Oil Spill – Era/FoEN Accuses Shell of Denying Communities JIV Reports

Yenagoa — The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) has raised the alarm that Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria has been denying host communities in the Niger Delta access to Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) reports indicting the company over oil spill incidents.

The group, in a statement on Monday by Alagoa Morris, Project Officer and Head, Niger Delta Resource Centre,Yenagoa, also accused Shell of deploying security operatives “to intimidate and deny communities of the JIV reports”.

It listed Ikarama and Biseni communities of Bayelsa State and Joinkrama 4 (Edagberi/Betterland communities) of River State as some of the communities the company had denied JIV reports.

“Specific reference should be made here to the spill incidents from SPDC facilities in Ikarama, JK4 [Edagberi/Betterland communities] and Biseni.

“SPDC often deny the communities of the JIV reports; many of which are equipment failure-related oil spills. Shell has continued to deny the people of JK4, Ikarama and Biseni JIV reports craftily and, this is unacceptable.

“While they (Shell) deny the communities and fail to post some of such incidents on the company website; the particular spill incident numbers are often quoted when giving out clean-up or related contracts. One such incident number is 900866 and relates to a 2012 spill which occurred at Shell’s Okordia Manifold at Ikarama.

“After signing the JIV, Shell refused to give the community copy to the community on the pretext that they need to photocopy the report. They agreed that someone from the community accompany them to pick up the photocopy but they pushed the person down from the car as they were going.

“Another ugly incident of craftiness by Shell was after signing the JIV report partaining to the major spill from Shell’s 6 inches Adibawa North pipeline in Kilama,Biseni in May, 2013. That spill flooded the Taylor Creek with crude oil,impacting several communities.”

SOURCE

RELATED

In Nigeria, Oil Price’s Slide Deters Theft: Wall Street Journal article

Problem that has troubled producers and environmentalists dwindles as crime no longer pays

By DREW HINSHAW: March 24, 2015 7:40 p.m. ET

THE NIGER DELTA, Nigeria—Oil is so cheap these days that for people around here, it isn’t even worth stealing anymore.

Just months ago, villagers regularly took hacksaws to pipelines, transforming their homeland of rivulets winding through bayou forests into a calamity for global oil giants and environmentalists.

FULL ARTICLE

UK Government must defend against big oil and mining dirty tricks

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Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 16.05.44UK Government must defend against big oil and mining dirty tricks

Oil and mining bodies together with companies such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell have drafted industry compliance guidelines that weaken the impact of new UK anti-corruption laws.

21st March 2015

Anti-corruption campaigners urge the UK Government to divorce itself from industry guidelines that would create transparency black-holes

Oil and mining bodies together with companies such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell have drafted industry compliance guidelines that weaken the impact of new UK anti-corruption laws. (1) A coalition of over 800 organisations including Global Witness, CAFOD, Oxfam, Christian Aid and ONE are urging the Government to reject industry’s proposed guidelines which suggest that the law allows companies to keep certain payments secret. (2)

The UK transparency law aims to cut corruption by forcing UK-based extractive companies to publish highly detailed reports of their payments to governments – such as taxes, royalties and licence fees – broken down by each of their projects worldwide; these payments are worth billions of pounds each year. Disclosure provides citizens in resource-rich but impoverished countries with the means to “follow the money” and hold governments and companies to account.

However, the draft industry guidelines suggest that companies can lump projects together when they report, and withhold from public view certain crucial payments they make as part of joint ventures. The result is that billions of pounds worth of payments will remain hidden from view and vulnerable to corruption.

Industry claims that their guidance is a reasonable interpretation of regulations; however, Global Witness believes that the draft industry guidelines go against the letter and intent of the law (3). EU legal expert Paul Lasok QC, Head of Monckton Chambers agrees, calling the guidelines “highly unsatisfactory … to the extent of being positively misleading” and states that they guide companies to report in a manner that could be “in breach of the regulations”. (4)

In addition, this week’s disclosures by Norwegian oil major Statoil under a similar law show that the UK industry guidelines are not fit for purpose. “Statoil’s highly detailed report puts the UK industry’s approach to shame,” said Dominic Eagleton, Senior Campaigner at Global Witness. (5)

Global Witness applauds the UK Government’s record for leading on extractives transparency up to this point. Lib-Dem Business Minister Jo Swinson and Department for Business officials championed the law, and the Prime Minister made the issue a top priority during his G8 Presidency in 2013. (6) “The UK has established a strong transparency law. The Government must stand firm against big business and divorce itself from industry guidelines that would allow companies to continue making payments in secret” says Eagleton.

Ends

Contact: Dominic Eagleton – +44 7738 713 016 / [email protected]

FULL ARTICLE WITH NOTES

RELATED

Statoil’s historic disclosures blow holes in Exxon and Shell’s campaign for secrecy

Global warming is now slowing down the circulation of the oceans — with potentially dire consequences

FROM AN ARTICLE BY CHRIS MOONEY PUBLISHED BY THE WASHINGTON POST ON 23 MARCH 2015

Global warming is now slowing down the circulation of the oceans — with potentially dire consequences

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According to a new study just out in Nature Climate Change by Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a group of co-authors, we’re now seeing a slowdown of the great ocean circulation that, among other planetary roles, helps to partly drive the Gulf Stream off the U.S. east coast. The consequences could be dire – including significant extra sea level rise for coastal cities like New York and Boston.

FULL ARTICLE

Here’s Why Shell Drilling Proposition In Arctic Is Facing Opposition

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By: MICHEAL KAUFMAN
Published: Mar 23, 2015 at 10:54 am EST

According to the Guardian, Royal Dutch Shell plc (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) will most probably get an approval by the US government to drill in the Arctic. An approval last month was given by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BEOM).

A formal statement is expected to come from the US interior Secretary Sally Jewel. The decision might spark opposition from environmentalist groups that are not in favor of Shell operating in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas of Alaska.

Earlier, the US federal court had allowed Shell to operate in Alaska, but the environmentalists believed that drilling in the Arctic would have adverse environmental effects. Hence, after a lot of persistence, the US Interior department was forced to revise its decision-making process, assessing the viability of drilling in the Arctic.

The BOEM after reconsidering the process approved Shell’s drilling plan in the Arctic. What was the most surprising was that the decision came ahead despite the BOEM disclosing that a chance for one or larger oil spills to occur would be 75%. This was revealed by the BOEM in its Environmental Impact Statement.

As reported by the Guardian, Professor Robert Bea, one of the faculty members at the University of California, has expressed his concerns over the approval by BOEM for Shell to operate in the Arctic. Crude oil price since the last six months has fallen over 50%. Hence, energy companies are exploring different ways to save on costs and maintain liquidity.

Mr. Bea believes that these cost cutting strategies could make it difficult for energy companies to comply with safety standards and could increase the probability of a spill occurring.

In a statement reported by Guardians, Mr. Bea said: “We should all be concerned about tradeoffs between production and protection…With the significant reduction in the price for oil; there are equally significant pressures to reduce costs so that acceptable profitability can be maintained.”

Mr. Bea has worked as a consultant for BP and Shell. He initially was brought in by Shell in 2004 to review the risks that came up with drilling in the Arctic. The conclusion drawn by Mr. Bea was operating in the Gulf had many risks involved and disapproved Shell’s plans to drill in the region.

An environmental group Greenpeace has expressed similar concerns as Mr. Bea. One of the campaigners of Greenpeace claimed that the contractors of these energy firms do not have good track records, and with crude oil price around $50 per barrel and high emphasis on cutting costs, the risk seems to be very high.

He further claimed that the move goes against the need to curb global warming. Regarding the issue as reported by the Guardian, he said: “if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change we can’t even burn all the fossil fuels we already have; we definitely don’t need to trash what’s left of the melting Arctic looking for more.”

He asked the Obama administration to show some responsibility by not allowing the energy companies to operate in the Gulf. He exclaimed that if President Obama agreed to this, it would seriously undermine the credibility of his leadership.

CEO Ben van Beurden according to the Guardian in a financial results conference indicated that the company is more than ready to go ahead with the Arctic project drilling this year. Shell spokesman indicated that the company has set high standards when it comes to maintaining adequate safety.

Shell since a very long time has been working on the Arctic project, but has seen many obstacles in terms of legal challenges. Though the company remains optimistic on its drilling proposition, it is likely to face a lot of opposition from the major environmentalist groups. Shell would have to take the risks head on, and would have to adopt a business model that complies with safety standards.

SOURCE

Why The Oil Price Could Fall Even Further

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 08.45.23From an article by Prabhat Sakya published 24 March 2015 by The Motley Fool under the headline:

BP plc And Royal Dutch Shell plc: Why The Oil Price Could Fall Even Further

The oil price has fallen dramatically since last summer. This has meant difficult times for the oil producers, including companies such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell.

…people have been buying more fuel-efficient cars, and there has been huge investment in technologies such as hybrid, electric and fuel cell vehicles.

So supply has been steadily increasing, and demand has been falling, and the world now has too much oil. Oil prices have begun a downtrend; and I don’t think that this fall will just last a few months, before bouncing back.

You see, commodity markets are not just about supply and demand. They are about momentum. That’s why I think this new era of low oil prices could last another decade. All those wells that have been drilled won’t suddenly run dry, and production won’t suddenly end.

This is the oil industry’s ‘new normal’

This is why I think that the oil price could fall even further over the next few years. And I think companies like BP and Shell realise this.

They are now adjusting to the new reality of low commodity prices.

FULL ARTICLE

Money Talks

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 09.08.40By Seattle Times editorial board published 23 March 2015 under the headline:

Terminal 5 Shell lease is not the right arena to debate climate change

SOON, two huge oil rigs will be parked at the Port of Seattle, preparing for a summer sailing to the Alaskan Arctic and for exploratory drilling.

The Port’s decision in February to lease Terminal 5 to Foss Maritime, which will service the Royal Dutch Shell rigs, was appropriate because facilitating the maritime economy is what the Port does.

Environmental activists are arguing — loudly — that the Port should scuttle that lease as part of a proxy war over climate change. A coalition of groups have sued and on Friday learned their lawsuit will go forward.

And Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, with backing of the Seattle City Council, has ordered a belated review of city-issued permits for the Terminal 5 lease, apparently with similar intentions.

Climate change is a real threat. But blocking those rigs at Terminal 5 wouldn’t stop Arctic drilling nor alter the course of climate change. Instead, undoing the Port lease would be a symbolic victory at the expense of the region’s vital maritime economy.

If the lease were killed, Shell would likely divert operations to another Pacific port. Prince Rupert in British Columbia or Dutch Harbor in Alaska could step in.

Environmentalists suggest that diverting those operations elsewhere could somehow change the fundamental economics of Arctic drilling. That ignores the $5 billion already invested in Arctic drilling efforts by Shell, as well as new regulations proposed by the Obama administration last monththat would allow oil exploration in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, with stringent environmental protections.

While the focus has been on unsightly rigs to be parked on the waterfront, Seattle’s attention should also be on the estimated 500 to 700 jobs that will be supported by the lease.

“The City of Seattle needs to decide if it wants to be a global player or to chase away family-wage jobs,” said Paul Stevens, chief executive of Foss Maritime, which holds the Terminal 5 lease to service the Shell rigs.

The lease will also help the Port of Seattle in the pitched battle for future maritime traffic. The two-year lease will generate about $13 million, which could expedite the Port’s plan to renovate Terminal 5 to accommodate behemoth next-generation cargo ships.

In other words, the Shell rigs are short-term parkers.

Efforts to block this new business — including the lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court by a coalition of environmental groups — focus on the Port’s internal processes, which authorized staff to negotiate the comparably small contract.

Those are micro-aggressions against a mega-problem.

The real fight should be over the oil leases themselves, which are issued by the U.S. Interior Department, led by Seattleite Sally Jewell, and for a new national energy policy that better addresses humankind’s role in changing our planet.

Seattle has been the gateway to Alaska since the city was founded. That vital economic link should not be broken for the symbolism of diverting a few oil rigs to another port.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Mark Higgins, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, Blanca Torres, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

SOURCE

Shell Gives Conditions for More Investments in Nigeria

An article by Ejiofor Alike published 24 March 2015 by ThisDayLive.com

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 23.42.20Shell Gives Conditions for More Investments in Nigeria

Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has given conditions for it to invest in Nigeria, saying that though it has divested assets, it is also ready to invest more than it has divested if the operating environment is right.

Speaking at a special panel session of the recently concluded Nigeria Oil and Gas (NOG) conference in Abuja, the new Managing Director of SPDC and Country Chair of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Osagie Osunbor said his company was committed to long-term presence in Nigeria.

Osunbor said even though his company had divested, it is ready to invest more than it divested if the conditions were right.

He however, stated that for his company to invest more, the issues of security, funding and fiscal stability have to be addressed.

“I think as a country what we have to be very mindful about is that we don’t completely focus on how we share the cake but focus on how we make the cake bigger. That for me is the key element of the whole fiscal stability side of the discussions. Elisabeth (Managing Director of Total Upstream Companies in Nigeria) made the point about the licenses and expiry of licenses. Many of these investments are in terms of billions, often money put forward by the private partners upfront. If the basic issue of the tenure of the licenses is not resolved, you can speak the whole day, nobody can commit the shareholders’ funds in these licenses,” he said.

Osunbor said the oil and gas industry has to be much more effective at making that point to the government about the need to provide this level of assurance for people to invest in the country.

He further stated that Nigeria’s operating environment is very uncertain, with multiple bodies implementing conflicting regulations.

“I am convinced that given the long term presence we all have in this country, at whatever level, whether in the United States, The Hague; in Paris and in China, everyone thinks of a long term presence in Nigeria and there is no better way to assure long term presence in this place as assuring that you have local capacity; if you don’t have local capacity, after a while, you withers,” Osunbor added.

He also noted that Nigerian independent companies can bring a lot on the table as they do things differently from the International Oil Companies (IOCs).

SOURCE

RELATED

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 18.29.05Nigeria: Shell Lists Challenges Undermining Transformation Success (Vanguard)

By Clara Nwachukwu, Michael Eboh and Grace Udofia

Abuja — As robust as Federal Government’s current transformations in the energy sector may appear, the Shell Group has identified a number of challenges undermining the success of the reforms.

These are security, crude theft and pipeline vandalism, as well as funding, fiscal stability and predictability, lease predictability and a host of others.

Shell said that these factors are not only increasing the industry’s operating costs, but also stalling further investments for greater economic benefits.

The Vice President, Nigeria and Gabon, Shell Upstream International, Mr. Markus Droll, identified the challenges while speaking on, “The Journey Towards Transformation,” at the just concluded Nigeria Oil and Gas Conference, NOG 2015, last week in Abuja.

He said: “We still need better security for workers in the oil and gas industry. As I speak, a considerable part of our operations are under strict security limitations. We still need a more effective counter-strategy against oil theft and sabotage. While we have directed even more resources to try to counter this menace, it has become a bigger problem compared to a year ago. The methods employed are even more brazen than ever.

“We still need better funding for capital projects and to clear pending payments on expenditure. We are very concerned about what impact the much lower oil price will have on 2015 funding. We still need more predictability around leases; if we increase certainty around leases, then investment becomes easier to attract.

“And we still need fiscal stability and predictability. This remains key in ensuring investors of all sizes can commit confidently, government revenues can be forecast reliably, and a capable service industry is maintained with a steady work load. As it stands, investors in Nigeria face very tough fiscal conditions.”

Optimism about the future

Droll disclosed that Nigeria’s enormous oil and gas resources is one of the major reasons the Shell Group remains optimistic about the country’s economic future, saying that its optimism and continued investments in the country is being fuelled by current reforms in the petroleum industry as well as the re-prioritising of energy issue across the economic value chain.

Apart from the nation’s growing gas sector, he noted that with the way issues were now being handled, “Nigeria will continue to develop, diversify and grow its economy.”

Already, he said that current investments by Shell Companies in Nigeria are expected to generate up to $5million annually for the next 10 years under the SPDC Joint Venture.

As a result, he said the companies, through various investment projects are now being positioned to support the country more through to its next level of development not only as an oil and gas producer, but also as an emerging market.

SOURCE

Bay Point: Removal of ‘Shell Pond’ polluted soil set to start in April

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 22.24.14From an article by Sam Richards published 23 March 2015 by Contra Costa Times

Bay Point: Removal of ‘Shell Pond’ polluted soil set to start in April

BAY POINT — More than two years after an aborted attempt to clean up the old “Shell Pond” along Suisun Bay, PG&E will soon begin removing 8,400 tons of dredged polluted soil from land adjacent to the pond on the community’s north edge, with an eye toward starting cleanup of the 73-acre pond itself in 2017.

The utility is set to begin, in mid-April, removing soil containing petroleum hydrocarbons (“carbon black”), metals and other compounds dredged in 2012 from the waste pond about three-quarters of a mile north of Willow Pass Road along the waterfront and trucking it about two miles to the Keller Canyon landfill, said PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian. That work is expected to take approximately three months, she said.

Even after the 2012 dredging, the Shell Pond bottom has a 1- to 3-foot layer of those same petroleum hydrocarbons, metals and other compounds.

All the cleanup work is being done under the guidance of the state Department of Toxic Substances Control.

From 1950 until 1971, Shell Oil Products (whose plant there is now operated by Criterion Catalyst) discharged wastewater containing carbon black, metals and other compounds from its nearby chemical plant into both the 73-acre pond and onto an adjacent 22-acre parcel of land.

The 2012 dredging at Shell Pond was halted after officials at Shore Acres Elementary School, about a mile west of the pond site, complained about a strong, noxious smell. There were also some reports about that same smell from residents of the New York Landing neighborhood, three miles to the east on Pittsburg’s waterfront.

FULL ARTICLE

Joint Investigation Visit Reports Indict Shell On Oil Spills In Bayelsa

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From an article by Fyneface Aaron published 23 March 2015 by The Tide

Joint Investigation Visit Reports Indict Shell On Oil Spills In Bayelsa, Nigeria

(JIV) report on Seibou and several other oil wells that are spilling its contents into the environments in Bayelsa State operated by Shell Development Company has been attributed to equipment failure.

The reports estimated that some 549 barrels of SPDC,s crude stream was discharged into Ogboinbiri River in Southern Ijaw Local government area and impacted several other communities living along the coast.

The JIV report obtained on Monday, indicated that the visit was concluded on March 13,  2015, and traced the spills to raptured pipes which were fast ageing.

SPDC had in a statement issued by its spokesperson, Mr Joesph Obari, said the leakage was reported on January 23, 2015, and subsequently shut the facility 15 hours afterwards when it became safe to do so.

FULL ARTICLE

A sad situation in Rhodesia 50 yrs ago: Even worse now. 

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Robert Mugabe was a “key player” campaigning against the white settler regime in Rhodesia nearly 50 years ago, and remains the key player today, but considerably richer.  Some of this information, including the anti-Apartheid poster, comes from “A History of Royal Dutch Shell Volume 3. 

Shell Oil will be given permission to drill in the Arctic

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 09.08.40HOUSTON, March 22 (UPI) — Shell Oil Company, one of the largest oil companies in the world, will soon be allowed to drill for oil in the American Arctic.

The decision rests on the U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who is expected to announce the decision on Wednesday.

The drilling will occur in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas of the Arctic, near Alaska. Environmentalists are concerned with the issue, since technology has not been prepared to deal with an oil spill in that region. The Environmental Impact Statement claims there is a 75 percent chance of a large spill occurring.

“Developing the Arctic could be essential to securing energy supplies for the future, but it will mean balancing economic, environmental and social challenges,” reads Shell’s website.

SOURCE

Shell oil drilling in Arctic set to get US government permission

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Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 08.56.29From an article by Terry Macalister published by the Guardian on Sunday 22 March 2015:

Shell oil drilling in Arctic set to get US government permission

The US government is expected this week to give the go-ahead to a controversial plan by Shell to restart drilling for oil in the ArcticThe green light from Sally Jewell, the interior secretary, will spark protests from environmentalists…

FULL ARTICLE

RELATED

Shell names new Alaska manager: Petroleum News: 22 March 2015

Shell has appointed Laurie Schmidt as vice president, Shell Alaska, effective February, Shell spokeswoman Megan Baldino has told Petroleum News. Schmidt replaces Pete Slaiby who has taken a new position for Shell, based out of Houston.  Schmidt has moved to Alaska from a position as the head of audit….

SOURCE

COMMENT FROM A REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR

(1) The proposed US rules regarding wells expected to be fracked (and operating in Alaska) simply require the use of design criteria which are exceeded by most larger oil companies own standards anyway. Small companies without internal standards have probably been cutting corners to reduce costs when drilling wells, resulting in poor zonal isolation and well integrity, but they have always done this. Larger companies with high internal standards in place (such as Shell and BP) have also shown what can happen when their own company standards are ignored, as happened in Alaska and Macondo.

(2) The replacement of Pete Slaiby by Laurie Schmidt might suggest that Shell is trying to ensure that if they go ahead in Alaska, they will comply with both the government regulations and their own rules this time around.

How Shell And BP Will Benefit From Tax Cut in North Sea

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By: MICHEAL KAUFMANPublished: Mar 22, 2015 at 9:56 am EST

As UK’s North Sea oil industry suffers from declining production and a prolonged slump in oil price, the government has given oil companies a good reason to rejoice.

George Osborne, UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced earlier this week the government’s decision to reduce tax applicable to energy investments made in the North Sea to help the struggling oil and natural gas industry. The Petroleum Revenue Tax will be reduced from its existing rate of 50% to 35%.

In his budget statement on Wednesday, Mr. Osborne said he would lower the supplementary rate of taxation from 30% to 20%, which is applicable on the profits of oil and natural gas companies who operate in UK’s North Sea. The downward revision has come three months after it was previously reduced from 32% to 30%. It is levied on top of the existing corporation tax. The lowered rate of supplementary charge will be backdated to January, effective immediately.

According to the trade association body Oil & Gas UK, effective tax rates on energy production from older fields in North Sea will be lowered from 80% to 75%, while newer fields will be subject to an effective tax rate of 50% as opposed to 60% previously.

Crude oil price has fallen to six-year low after being on a downward trajectory for nine months. From averaging over $100 per barrel, oil price has nearly halved. The US benchmark for crude oil, West Intermediate Texas futures for next month delivery are currently priced at $45.72 per barrel, while Brent crude oil futures, the global oil price benchmark, closed on Friday at $55.32 per barrel.

The recent downturn in oil price has run chaos in the oil and gas industry across the globe, with UK’s North Sea oil industry being no exception. “It is clear to me that the fall in oil price poses a pressing danger to the future of our North Sea industry,” Mr. Osborne said during his speech on March 18. He went on to say that the situation requires “bold and immediate action” from the government.

Major oil and gas discoveries were made in the North Sea four decades ago after test drilling in 1966, making it one of the most attractive energy exploration sites in the world. The quality of oil and its proximity to oil markets in Europe has seen major oil companies set up operations in the North Sea. However, most industry experts agree that North Sea region is past its prime and is maturing. Oil extraction has become relatively more expensive and production has been on a decline.

According to the Wall Street Journal, last year’s average production in North Sea of 1.4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day is around 70% lower than what the oilfields could produce 15 years ago. Falling production, coupled with record low oil price, led to major oil firms cutting back their capital spending budgets in the North Sea, including BP plc (ADR) (NYSE:BP) and Royal Dutch Shell plc (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A)

The government had been under pressure to make North Sea attractive for oil producers once again. In January, Shell announced its plans to reduce its capital spending budget for fiscal year 2015 (FY15) by $15 billion. CEO Ben van Beurden said the company could sell off its assets in North Sea fields as part of the spending cut because the fall in oil price made it even harder to operate in the region. “We see falling production levels, rising costs, high tax and ageing assets, so it was a tough place and it just got tougher will the low oil prices,” said Mr. Beurden. Last month, Shell formally submitted plans to the government to decommission its Brent Delta oil platform.

Following the much-awaited tax cuts, the multinational oil and natural gas company might reconsider its decision to scale back from North Sea. Lower tax rates will most likely increase investment in the area, which could boost North Sea’s oil production. According to Mr. Osborne, the Office for Budget Responsibility estimated that the tax cut would increase oil output by 15% by 2020.

Similarly, British oil giant BP had been concerned about its North Sea operations, which began decades ago. The company admits that North Sea oilfields are maturing and announced to cut 200 jobs and 100 contractor positions at its North Sea operations in January, as a response to “toughening market conditions”. The oil company was in need of a relief and the tax cut seems to have arrived at the right time.

SOURCE

New Federal Rules Are Set for Fracking

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 09.12.24FROM AN ARTICLE BY CORAL DAVENPORT PUBLISHED IN THE NEW YORK EDITION OF THE NEW YORK TIMES ON 21 MARCH 2015

New Federal Rules Are Set for Fracking

Extracts

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday unveiled the nation’s first major federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing, a technique for oil and gas drilling that has led to a significant increase in American energy production but has also raised concerns about health and safety risks.

The Interior Department began drafting the rules, focused on drilling safety, in Mr. Obama’s first term after breakthroughs in the technology, also known as fracking, led to a surge in the production of oil and gas.

The fracking boom has put the United States on track to soon become the world’s largest oil and gas producer.

But environmentalists fear that the technique, which involves injecting a cocktail of chemicals deep underground to break up the rocks around oil and gas deposits, could contaminate surrounding water supplies and wildlife.

As the practice of fracking has soared, fights over how and whether to regulate it have broken out across the country. The states have jurisdiction over drilling on private and state-owned land, where the vast majority of fracking is done in the United States. The new federal rules, by contrast, will cover about 100,000 oil and gas wells drilled on public lands, according to the Interior Department.

The regulations, which are to take effect in 90 days, will allow government workers to inspect and validate the safety and integrity of the concrete barriers that line fracking wells. They will require companies to publicly disclose the chemicals used in the fracturing process within 30 days of completing fracking operations, using an industry-run website called FracFocus.

The Independent Petroleum Association of America immediately filed a lawsuit challenging the regulations, calling it “a reaction to unsubstantiated concerns” and requesting that the regulations be set aside. “From California to Pennsylvania, the oil and natural gas industry has played a critical role in reviving America’s economy, and hydraulic fracturing has been the key to this revival,” said Barry Russell, the chief executive of the association.

FULL ARTICLE

RELATED ARTICLE PUBLISHED BY THE WASHINGTON POST

Obama administration tightens federal rules on oil and gas fracking

Judge: Suit against Shell’s Arctic-drilling ‘homeport’ in Seattle can go ahead

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 19.49.45Article by Joel Connelly published 20 March 2015 by seattlepi.com

Judge: Suit against Shell’s Arctic-drilling ‘homeport’ in Seattle can go ahead

Critics are on solid legal ground in a legal challenge to the location of a “homeport” for Shell Oil’s Arctic-drilling fleet at the Seattle waterfront, a King County Superior Court judge ruled Friday.

The ruling by Judge Mariane Spearman allows a suit against the Port of Seattle, brought by four environmental groups, to go ahead.

The judge backed up foes’ argument that proposed uses of Terminal 5 go far beyond the “cargo terminal” allowed under the current shoreline development permit that the port has with the city of Seattle.

The judge quoted from a Port of Seattle staff document. It said Terminal 5 will be used for “vessel birthing, mooring and provisioning” of ships that will set out to drill this summer in the Chukchi Sea off northwest Alaska.

“The permitted uses under terms of the (city) lease seem to contradict expected uses outlined in the Port of Seattle’s briefing memo,” Spearman said.

“These activities appear to be qualitatively different than Eagle Marine Services’ previous use of Terminal 5 as a marine-container terminal,” she added.

The legal skirmishing is backdrop to a major national environmental battle.

Shell owns leases in the Chukchi Sea for which it paid $2.1 billion. The oil giant has cut back exploration elsewhere in the world, but wants to resume exploration in a shallow body of oil that could yield billions of barrels of oil.

Shell experienced a fiasco when it tried to drill three years ago. It concluded when the drilling ship Kulluk, retrofitted at $450 million cost, broke lose from its tow lines in a Gulf of Alaska storm and was wrecked on an island near Kodiak.

The Chukchi Sea is one of the world’s great ocean ecosystems. It supports an estimated 2,000 polar bears, recently classified endangered due to their shrinking Arctic ice pack habitat. The sea is feeding ground for the gray whales that migrate through Northwest waters each spring.

The Obama administration seems inclined to allow Arctic drilling, although it has put large swaths of the Chukchi Sea off limits to Arctic exploration.

The environmentalists’ legal goal is to force additional environmental studies that will keep Shell off the Seattle waterfront. The port’s lease is with Foss Maritime, which supplies, maintains and repairs Shell’s ships.

“We hope, with this ruling, that the port moves quickly — it has dragged its feet until now — to bring a resolution of this case,” Patti Goldman, counsel for Earthjustice, which represents four major green groups that sued, said in an interview.

The Port of Seattle said it is still reviewing Judge Spearman’s ruling.

Ex-Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, an outspoken opponent, applauded the Spearman decision to let the case go ahead.

“It’s great that we are going to actually look at this,” McGinn said. “The port has done everything in its power to keep details of this decision secret from the public.”

The port, in its legal filing, argued that environmental groups were pursuing political objectives in a court of law.

“Holding an elected body accountable for their violation of the public trust and the laws they are sworn to uphold isn’t playing politics, it is stopping elected officials from circumventing the law,” Goldman said in a statement. “In the courtroom it’s not about politics, it’s about the law.”

The ruling by Judge Spearman will likely bear on another possible challenge to Shell.

Mayor Ed Murray has asked the city’s Planning and Development Department to review and investigate whether plans to berth Shell at the waterfront go beyond the “cargo terminal” permit granted by the city.

In years past, Shell’s drilling fleet has needed extensive repairs, maintenance and conversions after returning from drilling.

If it is determined that a new permit is needed for the Shell “homeport,” what the city calls “additional environmental review” would be required. Such review would take time. Shell is on a fast track to get back to the Arctic.

SOURCE

RELATED

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Shell names new Alaska manager: Petroleum News for Publication 22 March 2015

Shell has appointed Laurie Schmidt as vice president, Shell Alaska, effective February, Shell spokeswoman Megan Baldino has told Petroleum News. Schmidt replaces Pete Slaiby who has taken a new position for Shell, based out of Houston.

SOURCE

Shell and Eni Struggle To Control Oil Spills In Nigeria

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By: MICHEAL KAUFMAN
Published: Mar 20, 2015 at 9:35 am EST

As reported by Bloomberg, Amnesty International has indicated that Royal Dutch Shell plc (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) and Eni SpA (ADR) (NYSE:E) are finding it difficult to control the oil spills in Nigeria. Amnesty International asserted that both companies have been involved in over 550 oil spills in the Southern Niger Delta River. This is much higher than the average of ten oil spills per year in Europe from 1971 to 2011.

Nigeria is regarded as one of the major crude oil producers. According to Bloomberg, the country records daily production of two million barrels. Hence, it has attracted the attention of many major energy companies. The oil spills are a major source of concern for the residents of the country. The Nigerian community believes that oil spills lead to serious environmental concerns. The fisherman community, in particular, feels that the spills are damaging the fishing villages in the Niger Delta.

The oil companies hold the belief that a majority of the spills are caused by oil theft and sabotage in the Niger Delta.

Bloomberg further reported Audrey Gaughran, the global issue director of Amnesty International, claiming the situation to be alarming. He said if these oil spills had occurred in any other country, an emergency would have been declared. However, this appears to be a standard operating procedure for the oil industry in Nigeria.

In 2014, Eni SpA was responsible for 349 oil spills. A year earlier, the Roma-based company had reported 500 oil spills. Amnesty International feels that Eni should be investigated for negligence.

The largest crude oil producer in Nigeria, Shell, was responsible for 204 oil spills in the region. The company received significant criticism for two of oil spills in January 2008. Last year, the company agreed on paying $81 million to the Bodo community, who were affected by the spill. The company fought a three-year battle with the community before finally agreeing to pay the amount.

SOURCE

SPDC Completes Sale of Oil Mining Lease 18 in Nigeria

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 08.17.47Cautionary note: Shell has a track record in Nigeria of repeated oil spills; toxic gas flaring without end; arming police thugs; hiring militant gang leaders; hanging Nigerian campaigners while in bed with one particularly despotic regime; paying bribes to corrupt Nigerian government ministers and infiltrating spies into the Nigerian government.

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands, March 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ –

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell plc (Shell) (NYSE: RDS.A) (NYSE: RDS.B), has completed the assignment of its 30% interest in oil mining lease (OML) 18 and related facilities in the Eastern Niger Delta. Its interests in OML18 were assigned to Eroton Exploration & Production Company Limited. Total cash proceeds for Shell amount to $737 million.

This divestment is part of the strategic review of SPDC’s onshore portfolio and is in line with the Federal Government of Nigeria’s aim of developing Nigerian companies in the country’s upstream oil and gas business.

Shell has been in Nigeria for more than 50 years and remains committed to keeping a long-term presence there – both onshore and offshore. Through SPDC and its other Nigerian companies, Shell responsibly produces the oil and gas needed to help fuel the economic and industrial growth that generates wealth for the nation and jobs for Nigerians.

OML18 covers an area of 1,035 square kilometres and includes the Alakiri, Cawthorne Channel, Krakama, and Buguma Creek fields and related facilities. The divested infrastructure includes flow stations together with associated gas infrastructure plus oil and gas pipelines within the OML. The divested fields produced on average around 14,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (100%) during 2014.

Total E&P Nigeria Limited and Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited have also assigned their interests of 10% and 5% respectively in the lease, ultimately giving Eroton Consortium a 45% interest in OML18.

All approvals have been received from the relevant authorities of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Notes to editors:

SPDC is the operator of a joint venture between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (55%), SPDC (30%), Total E&P Nigeria Limited (10%) and Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited (5%).

ADDED BY JOHN DONOVAN:

Cautionary note: Shell has a track record in Nigeria of repeated oil spills; toxic gas flaring without end; arming police thugs; hiring militant gang leaders; hanging Nigerian campaigners while in bed with one particularly despotic regime; paying bribes to corrupt Nigerian government ministers and infiltrating spies into the Nigerian government.

Shell Leads Gulf Sale Bids

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By: MICHEAL KAUFMAN: Published: Mar 19, 2015 at 1:06 pm EST

Extracts

The Oil and Gas Journal, quoting US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), has reported that the Gulf of Mexico, Central Planning Area Lease Sale 235 attracted around 195 bids from 42 companies. Major energy companies such as Statoil ASA (ADR) (NYSE:STO), Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) and Royal Dutch Shell plc. (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) led the bids.

Shell was the highest bid placer placing around 17 bids amounting to $37.89 million.

FULL ARTICLE

Africa: Statoil’s Historic Disclosures Blow Holes in Exxon and Shell’s Campaign for Secrecy

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 08.17.47Statoil’s disclosures deal a major blow to efforts by a small number of backward looking oil firms, including ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and BP, to weaken the U.S. transparency rule. Unless transparency rules include these elements, they will give companies a licence to continue making corrupt payments.

Extracts from a Press Release by Global Witness published 19 March 2015

Transparency campaigners call on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to follow Norway’s lead

The Norwegian energy giant Statoil today became the first major oil company to publish its payments to governments under a new, mandatory transparency standard being rolled out across the world. As the Securities and Exchange Commission works to create a similar transparency rule for US-listed oil and mining companies, campaigners in the Publish What You Pay coalition are calling on U.S. regulators to follow Norway’s lead. (1)

Norway is the first country to bring the standard into effect, which requires oil, gas and mining companies to disclose the revenues they pay into government coffers – such as taxes, royalties and licence fees – for all countries they operate in. (2) Greater transparency will enable citizens to monitor payments worth hundreds of billions of dollars each year, and hold their governments to account for how the money is used.

Statoil’s disclosures deal a major blow to efforts by a small number of backward looking oil firms, including ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and BP, to weaken the U.S. transparency rule.

Unless transparency rules include these elements, they will give companies a licence to continue making corrupt payments.

FULL PRESS RELEASE

Massive Layoffs Occurring in the Oil Industry

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 08.45.23From an article by Wall Street Sector Selector Staff published 19 March 2015

Massive Layoffs Occurring in the Oil Industry

Husky Energy operating in the Canadian oil sands announced it would cut capital expenditures and put some long-term projects on hold.

Husky Energy announced the layoffs of 1,000 workers.

Suncor and Royal Dutch Shell are both cutting workers in the Albian Sands project.

Twenty three thousand jobs could be lost according to the Canadian Association of Oil Drilling Contractors.

In the United States Baker Hughes has stated it will layoff 7,000 workers. 

FULL ARTICLE

Will Royal Dutch Shell Cut Its Dividend?

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 08.45.23From an article by Tim McAleenan Jr. published 19 March 2015 by Seeking Alpha

Will Royal Dutch Shell Cut Its Dividend?

Summary

  • Royal Dutch Shell’s current dividend payout ratio is over 90%, putting the safety of the dividend in question.
  • The good news for investors is that the company is sitting on $21 billion in cash, and likely has the ability to continue paying its dividend throughout continued low prices.
  • The bad news for investors is that Royal Dutch Shell’s reserve replacement rate is only 47%, and this will affect the company’s long-term earnings power for producing oil.

FULL ARTICLE

Arctic Drilling: Key decisions due at end of March for Shell

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 19.49.45ARTICLE BY TIM BRADNER OF ALASKA JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, PUBLISHED 19 MARCH 2015

Key decisions due at end of March for Shell

Extracts

A key federal decision is shaping up for Shell at the end of this month.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, expects to issue a final decision by March 31 on a revised environmental impact statement of the Chukchi Sea 2008 Outer Continental Shelf lease sale that has been contested in court by environmental groups, the director of the agency said March 13.

Abigail Hopper, director of the BOEM, said a Record of Decision on a revised supplemental environmental impact statement, or SEIS, is to be issued.

That will enable the agency to begin its formal review of a plan submitted by Shell for 2015 summer exploration in the Chukchi Sea, she said.

Although a decision in late March puts Shell on a tight timetable, the company hopes to get its drill fleet to the Arctic in time for the open-water drill season.

One of the most important “lessons learned” from Shell’s 2012 experience was that Shell had no integrated plan, he said.

A post-season review by the U.S. Department of the Interior on Shell’s 2012 drilling season, “showed that not all elements of the operations were synchronized. The need for better coordination, such as between the company and contractors, was one of the lessons learned in 2012,” Salerno said.

That may have contributed to management decisions leading to the loss of the Kulluk drill ship when it lost its tow and ran aground off Kodiak Island in a Gulf of Alaska storm in late 2012, he said.

FULL ARTICLE

Shell, Eni Making No Progress on Nigeria Oil Spills: Amnesty

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(Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc is making no progress curbing oil spills in Nigeria and Eni SpA’s operations in the West African country are out of control, according to Amnesty International.

The two companies reported more than 550 spills in the southern oil-rich Niger River delta last year, compared with an average of 10 spills a year in Europe between 1971 and 2011, said Amnesty.

“These figures are seriously alarming,” Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty’s global issues director, said in a statement on Thursday. “In any other country, this would be a national emergency. In Nigeria it appears to be standard operating procedure for the oil industry.”

Nigeria produces about 2 million barrels of oil a day, more than any other African country. Spills are blamed for damaging the environment and fishing villages in the delta. Oil companies often blame sabotage and theft, a claim which local people contest.

The Italian government should investigate Eni for negligence in Nigeria, where it reported 349 spills in 2014 and 500 the year before, according to Amnesty.

Shell, the biggest oil producer in Nigeria, reported 204 spills last year, Amnesty said. The Hague-based company agreed to pay £55 million ($81 million) to the Bodo community in January for two spills in 2008 after a three-year tussle with 15,600 Nigerians, mostly fishermen, in a London court.

Precious Okolobo, a Lagos-based spokesman for Shell, and Filippo Cotalini, a Milan-based spokesman for Eni, didn’t immediately respond to e-mailed requests for comment.

ENDS

Article by Paul Wallace12:01 AM GMT March 19, 2015

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Wallace in Lagos at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Vernon Wessels at [email protected] Chris Kay, Karl Maier

SOURCE

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19 March 2015

Royal Dutch Shell and the Italian multinational oil giant ENI have admitted to more than 550 oil spills in the Niger Delta last year, according to an Amnesty International analysis of the companies’ latest figures. By contrast, on average, there were only 10 spills a year across the whole of Europe between 1971 and 2011.

Shell reported 204 Niger Delta spills in 2014 while ENI, which operates in a smaller area, reported a staggering 349 spills.

“These figures are seriously alarming. ENI has clearly lost control over its operations in the Niger Delta. And despite all its promises, Shell has made no progress on tackling oil spills,” said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Global Issues Director.

“In any other country, this would be a national emergency. In Nigeria it appears to be standard operating procedure for the oil industry. The human cost is horrific – people living with pollution every day of their lives.”

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The companies say that these spills resulted in only 30,000 barrels – or 5 million litres – of oil spilt. However, given the very poor reporting systems used by oil companies this figure is highly likely to be a significant underestimate.

Royal Dutch Shell

The oil companies blame sabotage and theft for the vast majority of the spills. This claim is hotly contested by communities and NGOs and has been shown to be wrong.

In November 2014, during a legal action in the UK, Shell was forced to admit that it had underestimated the size of the two major Niger Delta oil spills, after years of denials.

The volume of oil spilt matters because the amount of compensation paid to affected communities is linked to the amount of oil that is estimated to have been spilt. Shell finally agreed to pay £55 million to the Bodo community in the Niger Delta after originally offering to give them a paltry £4,000.

“When a company has to pay £55 million for two oil spills it originally tried to pass off as minor, it should raise serious questions for investors about the hidden liabilities Shell may be carrying in the Niger Delta”, said Audrey Gaughran.

“If all oil spills could be scrutinised the way the two Bodo spills were then the true scale of the damage and Shell’s financial liabilities would be revealed. But this is not only about liabilities – there is a very serious human issue. Shell is cheating people out of just compensation. The Bodo case makes clear just what it takes to get this company to own up to the truth about oil spills – six years and UK court proceedings. What about all the hundreds of other communities this company has potentially cheated?”

Documents released as part of the UK legal action revealed that the company knew for years that one of its main pipelines was old and hazardous, but had failed to maintain it properly.

Additionally, a UK court ruling found that Shell has a responsibility to ensure the integrity of its pipelines.

ENI

Italian oil giant ENI, which owns the Nigerian Agip Oil Company is a smaller player in the Niger Delta than Shell and has received less attention. But the number of oil spills from its operations requires urgent action by both the Nigerian and Italian governments.

On top of the 349 spills in 2014, ENI reported more than 500 oil spills in 2013. The Nigerian regulator reported 474 oil spills from ENI operations in 2012.

“The Italian government must investigate what is happening in ENI’s Nigerian operations. These figures raises serious questions about potential negligence by the company going back many years,” said Audrey Gaughran.

“As a matter of priority all oil firms in Nigeria must urgently disclose the age and condition of their infrastructure, carry out reviews of their operating practices, and make the findings public so that communities know what is going on.”

Whatever the cause, according to Nigerian law, the oil companies are responsible for containing and cleaning up spills, and returning affected areas to their prior state. However, this rarely happens. As a result people in the Niger Delta are living with the cumulative impact of decades of pollution.

SOURCE

RELATED

No project will be abandoned in Nigeria, Shell says:

Naija247news.com: 19 March 2015

The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) says it is determined to complete its projects in Nigeria without fear of abandonment, in spite of challenges in its operations.

The Managing Director, SPDC and Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr Osagie Okunbor, said this on Wednesday at a panel session of oil majors at the 15th Nigeria Oil and Gas Forum in Abuja.

The company had in January announced that it would cut global investment spending by 15 billion dollars over the next three years following the collapse in oil prices, causing fears about its projects in Nigeria.

FULL ARTICLE

Non-U.S. Shales Prove Difficult to Crack

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By JUSTIN SCHECK and SELINA WILLIAMS: WALL STREET JOURNAL

March 18, 2015 11:20 p.m. ET

Exxon, Shell and others are pulling back from once-promising shale finds in Europe, Asia

After spending more than five years and billions of dollars trying to re-create the U.S. shale boom overseas, some of the world’s biggest oil companies are starting to give up amid a world-wide collapse in crude prices.

Chevron Corp. , Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC have packed up nearly all of their hydraulic fracturing wildcatting in Europe, Russia and China. 

“The pace of development outside North America is slower everywhere than people thought it would be,” Simon Henry, Shell’s chief financial officer, said in a recent interview.

FULL ARTICLE

850 jobs at stake in Shell Cyberjaya

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 17, 2015: 

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 21.26.38Around 850 jobs could be at stake at Shell offices in Cyberjaya as the Anglo-Dutch oil major consolidates its IT functions at a new base in Bangalore, India.

While no decision has yet been made, a senior officer dropped this bombshell during a town hall meeting with staff in Cyberjaya late last month, said sources.

The Bangalore move could also affect some 1,000 third party contractors if they are unable to relocate to India, the sources said.

The Shell Technology Centre Bangalore (STCB) is to be one of the three global hubs for technology, after Houston and Amsterdam for the energy group.

“By the end of 2010, STCB employed around 700 professionals and has plans to grow to about 1,500 in the near future. Recruitment at STCB is currently focused on graduates in India and experienced Indian professionals,” Shell Global said at its website.

Given this focus, chances are staff now employed at Cyberjaya may find it difficult to be relocated to Cyberjaya, said the sources, and will probably have to look for new jobs here.

A Shell company spokesperson here said: “Shell recently announced the strategic intention to create an in-house global information technology centre in Bangalore. India.

“This is part of a review of the company’s global IT projects and selected operations support capability that places greater emphasis on delivering projects in-house.”

Asked about the possible job losses at Cyberjaya, the spokesperson said: “We anticipate no direct impact to Shell staff in Malaysia during 2015 as a result of this proposed change. The project is at an early stage of development.

“Given our strategic intent, however, it is expected that there is likely to be staff impact as a result of this activity. We do not yet know the extent of this impact.

“We will share details when they become available with staff and their representative bodies, where appropriate.”

The spokesperson added: “Shell has been in Malaysia for over 100 years and we believe there are still many opportunities for Shell in Malaysia.

“Shell has no plan to close our Cyberjaya business operations centre. IT is just one of the functions based there.

“The centre also provides valuable human resources, finance, distribution, communications production services, global commercial and contracting and procurement support to Shell’s global operations.

“We continue to look for ways to migrate higher value work to our Cyberjaya Business Operations centre from our global operations.”

Source

Shell to divest from three more oil blocks in Nigeria

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 08.39.59

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 09.22.43By Roseline Okere on March 18, 2015

Royal Dutch Shell Plc has signed agreements for the divestment of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) interests in three more onshore Oil Mining Leases (OMLs), which completion is subject to the consent of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Besides, the company has concluded plans to stake about $35 billion on organic capital investment.

The company, which made this disclosure in its yearly company report for 2014 released on Monday, stated that additional divestments might occur as a result of the company’s strategic review.

She has so far divested from eight OMLs in Nigeria from 2010 to date.

The company said that proceeds of $15 billion from sales of non-strategic assets in 2014, and successfully completing its divestment programme for 2014-2015.

In 2014, the company’s Nigeria subsidiary sold its 30 per cent interest in OML 24 and related onshore facilities for $0.6 billion.

“The completed divestment programme will result in various production and tax effects in 2015”, the report said.

It noted that the company is considering further reductions to capital investment should the evolving market outlook warrant that step, “but are aiming to retain growth potential for the medium term. Asset sales are a key element of our strategy, improving our capital efficiency by focusing our investment on the most attractive growth opportunities”.

The report disclosed that the company took the final investment decision on the Bonga Main Phase three project of which the development is expected to deliver some 40 thousand bpd at peak production through the existing Bonga FPSO.

“We also expect higher levels of downtime in 2015, especially in Upstream and Chemicals, driven by increased maintenance activities. We will continue the initiatives started in 2014, which are expected to improve our North America resource plays and Oil Products businesses. We have new initiatives underway in 2015 that are expected to improve our upstream engine and resource plays outside the Americas. The focus of these initiatives will be on the profitability of our portfolio and growth potential”.

It disclosed that SPDC is undertaking a strategic review of its interests in the eastern Niger Delta and has divested its 30 per cent interest in OML 24.

Dwelling on crude oil theft, the company said: “While the level of crude oil theft activities and sabotage in 2014 was similar to 2013, the impact on production was smaller due to various mitigation measures. During 2014, force majeure related to security issues, sabotage and crude oil theft was only declared once, compared with four times in 2013.

“Our main offshore deep-water activities are carried out by Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO, Shell interest 100 per cent) which has interests in four deep-water blocks. SNEPCO operates OMLs 118 (including the Bonga field, Shell interest 55 per cent) and 135 (Bolia and Doro, Shell interest 55 per cent) and holds a 43.75 per cent interest in OML 133 (Erha) and a 50 per cent interest in oil production lease 245 (Zabazaba, Etan). SNEPCO also has an approximate 43 per cent interest in the Bonga Southwest/Aparo development via its 55 per cent interest in OML 118. Deep-water offshore activities are typically governed through PSCs.

SOURCE

Shell Denmark withdrawal, except for toxic Fredericia refinery?

COMMENT RECEIVED FROM A REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR ABOUT SHELL SELLING A MAJOR PART OF ITS DANISH DOWNSTREAM ASSETS

John 

On your site a few months back there was an article about contamination of the area of the Shell refinery in Fredericia which does not appear to have been included in the sale of the rest of the downstream portfolio. 

“Decade-old oil spills from tanks at the Shell Oil facility in Fredericia are still polluting the environment.”

Is there an issue of liability for clean-up costs? The Fredericia refinery is small, but processes much of the crude produced offshore Denmark (where Shell is the biggest shareholder in the DUC).

Older, smaller refineries in northern Europe do not have a good track record in recent years with many being shut down. It seems odd that Shell did not (or could not) sell Fredericia with the rest of their downstream Danish assets. The low population density and low traffic density caused the other major marketers to pull out years ago, citing continuing losses. This was addressed by allowing filling stations to sell a wide range of goods on Sundays, when other shops were obliged to close. However, most supermarkets in Denmark are now open 7 days a week, so this source of income has dried up.

UPDATE

I have now received information that Shell is seeking a buyer for the refinery. It is understandable, given the circumstances, why that is likely to be a much more difficult task.

Shell sell’s its Danish Network of 315 Gasoline Stations

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 11.37.41March 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ – Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (“Couche-Tard”) announces today that it has signed, through its wholly-owned indirect Danish subsidiary Statoil Fuel & Retail A/S, an agreement with A/S Dansk Shell to acquire its Retail, Commercial Fuels and Aviation businesses in Denmark.

Pending the customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions, the transaction is expected to close in the second half of Couche-Tard’s fiscal year 2016. The acquisition would be financed from Couche-Tard’s available cash and existing credit facilities. The parties have agreed not to disclose the purchase price for this acquisition.

Shell’s Danish Retail business comprises 315 sites, of which 225 are full-service stations, 75 are automated fuel stations and 15 are truck stops. Of the 315 sites 140 are owned by Shell, 115 are leased from third parties and 60 are dealer-owned.

The agreement also encompasses an important commercial fuels operation, as well as an aviation business operating at seven Danish airports including Copenhagen Airport. Pursuant to the agreement, Couche-Tard would have the right to use the Shell brand in Denmark for up to ten years.

FULL PRESS RELEASE

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Oil plunges to a 6-year low. Is $30 a barrel next?

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 23.38.17CNNMoney (New York) March 16, 2015: 5:39 PM ET

Extremely cheap oil is back, and it may get even cheaper. Crude plunged 4% to as low as $42.85 a barrel on Monday. That’s the lowest price since March 2009 and marks the fifth consecutive day of losses.

EXTRACTS

A month ago, people were talking about an “oil comeback.” Now that looks like ust a mirage. More and more analysts predict prices of $40 or lower, at least in the near term.

“I think the market almost has to have a $30-handle on it before it gets this out of its system,” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service.

That could cause gas prices to take another tumble, Kloza says, bringing the average U.S. price back to around $2 a gallon. It’s currently at $2.42.

What’s fueling the latest plunge? The world still has too much oil. The supply glut that sparked the dramatic crash in crude from $100 a barrel last summer to under $50 in January remains. Oil settled at $43.88 on Monday.

The key now is to see a pullback in production, but so far no one wants to budge. OPEC hasn’t scaled back production, and power player Saudi Arabia continues to say it has no intention to do so.

In the U.S., shale companies also continue to pump more and more oil. While there are signs that the number of oil drilling rigs has fallen significantly in recent weeks, there’s a lag before that drop in rigs really translates into less production.

“Shale production is not getting dented,” says Kloza.

While the oil slide has been going on for months, there are key thresholds that act as trigger points for the market. Crude’s collapse below $43.50 a barrel on Monday represents one of those points.

Barclays said that breach makes the bank more negative on oil and signals a further move below $40. In other words, the selling is probably not done.

“It will overreact to the downside. There are an awful lot of smart people who think this market is on a rendezvous course with the December 2008 low of $32.40,” says Kloza.

That level represents a modern day low, although it occurred under extremely different circumstances. Back then oil was slammed by lack of demand as the world’s largest economy was trying to rescue itself from a major financial crisis. Today oil is falling because there is too much supply.

FULL ARTICLE

RELATED

Oil Co. Bankruptcies Could Prime Deal-Making Pump

By Keith Goldberg

Law360, New York (March 16, 2015, 6:14 PM ET) — The growing wave of oil company bankruptcies due to depressed oil prices could help kick-start deal activity within the sector, though experts warn that assets that aren’t viable in a low-price environment may end up being stranded rather than changing hands.

U.S. oil prices have remained below $50 a barrel, plunging more than 50 percent since last summer and putting the financial squeeze on oil and gas firms, especially in the upstream and oil field services sectors.

NIGERIA: Oil Spill From Shell’s Seibou Well In Bayelsa Traced To Equipment Failure

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 08.12.59

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 18.29.05The oil spills from Seibou oil well operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Bayelsa State has been traced to a ruptured and dilapidated pipeline.

A joint investigation visit (JIV) report on the incident obtained by SaharaReporters estimated that some 549 barrels of SPDC’s crude was discharged into Ogboinbiri River in Southern Ijaw local government area. The spill has affected several communities in the area.

The spill impacted 300,000 square meters of water surface, an area roughly the size of 42 football pitches, in Bayelsa State. 

In a statement issued by its spokesperson, Joseph Obari, Shell said the leakage was reported on January 23, 2015, and that the company subsequently shut the facility 15 hours afterwards when it became safe to do so.

However, SaharaReporters discovered that Shell failed to report the incident on its own oil spills incident website even though the facts were available to the company. 

Representatives of residents of affected communities as well as industry observers accused Shell of underreporting spills traced to equipment failures. They suggested that the company’s delinquency was a deliberate policy by Shell to evade payment of compensation to those affected by spillages. “But the company promptly reports and often exaggerates spills caused by sabotage,” one industry expert told SaharaReporters.

Under Nigerian laws, operators are exempt from payment of compensation for oil spills caused by sabotage.

The JIV team consisted of the Bayelsa State Commissioners of Environment, Mr. Iniruo Wills, Agriculture, Mr. Thomas Commander, officials of SPDC, and agents of the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA). Representatives of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), an NGO, as well as members of affected communities were also part of the investigative visit.

A visual assessment of the underwater six-inch crude flow line by all the parties in the JIV team showed that the pipeline failed due to corrosion.

Hundreds of oil workers were deployed at the Seibou wellhead location in the channels of Ogboinbiri River to excavate the pipeline for inspection to unravel the cause of the spill.

Shell’s oil spill response team had used booms, (plastic materials) to cordon off the canal to ensure that any residual oil leak would be trapped and recovered.

Speaking during the joint visit, Mr. Wills, the Bayelsa Commissioner for Environment, noted that the state government had resolved to overhaul the entire spills and pollution response process.

“We have noted that the joint investigation procedure had not achieved the desired result and we are resolved to follow up the entire process in detail. Our technical staff have been so directed to be fully involved,” said the commissioner.

“Also we have taken steps to make the JIV process very transparent and integrate all the relevant stakeholders just to ensure that every party is represented,” Mr. Wills added. 

FULL ARTICLE

RELATED

Bayelsa Govt Accuses Shell, Chevron, Agip, Others Of Slow Response To Crude Oil Spillage, Violation Of Environmental Laws

By Osa Okhomina— Mar 15, 2015

Extracts

According to the State Government, though the State Ministry of Environment is battling to enforce needed environmental laws and enforce compliance, the show of indifference by the oil multinationals including the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) and others, have shown a settled culture of corporate impunity to issues of crude oil spillages.

FULL ARTICLE

Shell gets cold feet on SA shale-gas

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 14.07.51FROM TIMES LIVE – SUNDAY TIME SA: ARTICLE BY LONI PRINSLOO 15 March 2015

Shell gets cold feet on SA shale-gas

Multinational oil and gas company Royal Dutch Shell is pulling its top shale-gas man out of South Africa, an indication that companies are growing increasingly frustrated with government delays over shale-gas legislation.

This week, Business Times was told that Jan-Willem Eggink – whom Shell sent to South Africa from Libya to monitor South Africa’s shale gas opportunity – would be pulled out of the country in coming weeks. Other highly skilled staff would follow him.

“While government is sitting around farting, these companies are shifting their money away from South Africa and our economy will lose billions,” said a member of parliament, who declined to be named.

Shell said on Friday that as part of a review due to falling oil prices, the company had adjusted its activities in shale oil and gas opportunities outside of the Americas.

It also said it had adjusted staffing in local exploration in South Africa. The company said it needed clarity on legislation and technical regulations in the country before making any further decisions.

“Should attractive commercial terms be put in place, the Karoo project could compete favourably within Shell’s global shale gas and oil portfolio. We will continue our ongoing consultation with government [and] industry about the long-term opportunities of shale gas exploration and the regulations that will govern this industry,” it said.

But the parliamentary source said: “Shell will resist saying it publicly, but they have given up on the government getting it together any time soon to fix the position of oil and gas companies in the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act [MPRDA] or to release fracking [hydraulic fracturing] regulations.”

FULL ARTICLE

RELATED

Shell pulling back from shale in South Africa: Reuters 16 March 2015

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell is pulling back from its shale projects in South Africa due to lower energy prices although it is still seeking an exploration license for the onshore Karoo Basin, its country manager said on Monday.

A more than halving of crude oil prices since June last year has put high cost projects such as shale gas exploration in jeopardy around the globe, Shell South Africa Chairman Bonang Mohale told Johannesburg station Talk Radio 702.

“The reason to go to a low cost holding position … is as a result of a difficult period for world (prices),” Mohale said.

Shell’s retreat is a blow to the South African government, which has been criticised by oil firms for delaying issuing exploration licenses, most notably in the Karoo, which is believed to hold up to 390 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable reserves.

Shell has been waiting for six years for an exploration licence.

“What is of concern is regulatory uncertainty,” Mohale said. “We have waited inordinately long for licenses.”

Green groups and land owners in the Karoo, a vast semi-desert wilderness stretching across the heart of South Africa, have argued that exploring for shale by fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, would cause huge environmental damage.

© Thomson Reuters 2015 All rights reserved

The fall in oil price could be a turning point for Nigeria’s economy

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 10.18.33From an article by Godwin Uyi Ojo published by The Guardian on 5 March 2015

The fall in oil price could be a turning point for Nigeria’s economy

Extracts

Oil extraction has ruined Nigeria’s Niger Delta, hampering farming and fishing and impoverishing the people with little or no benefits from oil proceeds. Even if Belema oil company – or any other oil company – buys the oil concessions in Ogoni, a caveat emptor, or buyer beware, has been imposed to warn would-be buyers that Shell’s huge liabilities, court cases, and claims would become would-be buyers’ baggage too.

SOURCE

Shell CEO’s total pay soars to $25.7 mln

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 13.58.27

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 21.14.49Thu Mar 12, 2015 8:09am EDT

(Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden will earn a total 24.2 million euros ($26 million) for 2014, making him one of the highest-earning FTSE 100 bosses despite last year’s sharp fall in oil prices.

Van Beurden’s total pay includes 5.6 million euros in salary, bonus and shares plus pension and other items, the company said on Thursday.

His 2014 compensation, when calculated in British pounds, places him as the second-highest-paid senior executive on the FTSE 100 share index after WPP chief executive Martin Sorrell, whose 2013 pay package reached 29.8 million pounds, according to think tank High Pay Centre.

Shell chief financial officer Henry Simon’s total remuneration rose by 46 percent in 2014 from a year earlier to 6.485 million euros.

Van Beurden was appointed to the top position on Jan. 1, 2014 and his prior year’s salary was not disclosed.

The pay levels could revive investor protest after earnings per share in 2014 declined by around 8.5 percent to $2.38 per share.

“Van Beurden is doing quite well at a time when the oil price is going down,” said Deborah Hargreaves, High Pay Centre director.

“Is there an argument that if he is rewarded when the oil price goes up, he should sacrifice some of that reward when the oil price goes down? I think it is one-sided. There is a lot of upside and not much downside.”

Shell spokeswoman Sally Donaldson said van Beurden’s total figure, published in the company’s annual report, was “unusually high” because it included a variety of extra payments related to his long service with Shell and tax payments.

“This is not the same as this year’s ‘take home pay’,” Donaldson told Reuters in a statement.

“His promotion to CEO, combined with his prior expatriation from the Netherlands to the UK, have resulted in the ‘single figure’ which we have published today, but it’s important to put this figure in appropriate context.”

BP said this month Chief Executive Bob Dudley’s total compensation rose by more than 20 percent to $12.74 million in 2014.

Shell’s earnings on a current cost of supplies basis rose to $19 billion in 2014 from $17 billion a year earlier, despite the near halving in oil prices in the second half of the year.

European oil majors have long argued that they have to pay high salaries to retain talented people who otherwise might leave for higher-paying U.S. firms.

By comparison, Rex Tillerson, the long-serving chief executive of Exxon Mobil, earned $40 million in 2012, falling to $28 million in 2013. Chevron’s chief John Watson’s compensation also fell to $24 million in 2013 from $32.2 million in 2012.

Shell, Europe’s largest oil major, has traditionally been among the best paying companies. It paid over $20 million to its previous CEO Peter Voser in 2012 but halved his remuneration to $11.24 million in 2013 following what the company described as a disappointing performance.

($1 = 0.9421 euros) (Additional reporting by Christopher Johnson; editing by Jason Neely/Ruth Pitchford)

SOURCE

RELATED GUARDIAN ARTICLE

Shell CEO Ben van Beurden paid €24.2m in 2014

Extract

“I think Ben van Beurden’s pay could become a potential political issue in the run-up to the elections. There is a lot of discussion at the moment about top pay and its a difficult time to be handing out such rewards.”

FULL ARTICLE

RELATED REUTERS ARTICLE

Shell says its proved oil, gas reserves decreased in 2014

LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell (Xetra: R6C1.DEnews) ‘s proved oil and natural gas reserves decreased by the equivalent of 863 million barrels of oil in 2014, the company said in its annual report.

“In 2014, after taking into account production, our total proved reserves declined by 863 million (barrels of oil equivalent),” Shell (LSE: RDSB.Lnews) said in the report published on Thursday.

Western oil companies including Shell have struggled in recent years to expand their proven reserves. (Reporting by Alex Lawler)

SOURCE

RELATED FT ARTICLE

Shell risks pay protest over chief’s €24m package

Royal Dutch Shell’s chief executive Ben van Beurden earned almost £20m last year, after the oil company poured millions of pounds into his final-salary pension pot and footed a UK tax bill on his relocation to the Netherlands.

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Dudley pay triples in 201306 March 2014 08:18 GMT

Worlds leading source of information about Royal Dutch Shell

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 10.01.10Free access to over 37,000 articles, comment, historical information and news archive relating to corporate tax dodgers Royal Dutch Shell, the worlds largest company by revenue.

A TV documentary feature about our co-founder John Alfred Donovan, has aired in many countries. A related article was published in 10 languages.

John Alfred Donovan is credited on zoominfo.com as being the founder, owner and Group Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell. In a highly reputable book published in 2014, he is unmasked as being a former employee of Shell Corporate Affairs Security. He is in fact a long term shareholder in Royal Dutch Shell Plc and its predecessor, Shell Transport & Trading Company Limited.

This website provides a global platform, on a responsible basis, for Shell whistleblowers to put confidential information, including insider information and leaked documents, into the public domain e.g. Sakhalin2

This non-profit website is tacitly endorsed by Shell

For nearly a decade, we have operated under the Royal Dutch Shell Plc top level domain name, dealing on Shell’s reluctant behalf with redirecting job applications, business proposals, Shell pension enquiries, shareholder and investment enquiries, complaints, invitations to speak at conferences, an approach from the Dutch Defence Ministry, contact on behalf of Fox Business News and CNBC, and even terrorist threats. All communications meant for Shell. A humiliation that Shell continues to endure

If confused about the relationship between John Alfred Donovan and Shell, please be assured that the same applies to Shell.

Shell's Ben van Beurden bows to Putin on Good Friday, 18 April 2014

Bootlicker: Shell’s Ben van Beurden bows to Putin on Good Friday, 18 April 2014, weeks after Russia had invaded and annexed Crimea

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