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New earthquake in Groningen, city buildings shaken

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 20.37.24NAM, a 50:50 joint venture between Shell and ExxonMobil, is currently assessing claims from hundreds of people who say their homes have been damaged by the quakes.

Tuesday 30 September 2014

DutchNews.nl

An earthquake measuring 2.8 on the Richter scale was felt in Groningen province on Tuesday – considered a significant quake in the Netherlands.

Social media channels were buzzing with news from people who felt the quake, some of whom were in Groningen city itself. ‘I have never felt such a strong one,’ local councillor Paul de Rook said on Twitter. There have not yet been any reports of damage, news agency ANP said.

The quakes are caused by the ground settling following the extraction of natural gas from under the province. Gas extraction company NAM has not yet commented on the strength of Tuesday’s quake but the tremors are thought to have been strongest in the villages of Ten Boer and Bedum.

NAM, a 50:50 joint venture between Shell and ExxonMobil, is currently assessing claims from hundreds of people who say their homes have been damaged by the quakes.

The government has sharply reduced gas extraction volumes in the worst affected areas. Earlier this year, economic affairs minister Henk Kamp set aside €1.2bn to compensate people whose homes have been hit by earthquakes.

© DutchNews.nl

SOURCE ARTICLE

Update 1 October 2014

Gas group NAM says more serious earthquakes will hit Groningen

Wednesday 01 October 2014

People living in Groningen province will have to expect more and possibly more severe earthquakes because of natural gas extraction, the head of gas company NAM has told the NRC. ‘If you realise the Groningen gas fields will still supply us for 50 more years, then there will be more and possibly more severe quakes caused by our gas extraction,’ Bart van de Leemput told the paper. ‘But in 20 years time we expect there will be fewer.’

FULL ARTICLE

Shell evacuates workers from Brent Alpha and Bravo

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 12.22.47By John Donovan 

After all the Royal Dutch Shell senior management promises to improve safety on Shell North Sea platforms, serious incidents continue to occur. 

EnergyVoice.com is reporting that Shell workers have today been evacuated from the Brent Alpha and Bravo platforms after a crane dropped a large container into the North Sea. 

Extracts

The container, which was in the process of being winched onto a support vessel when the incident unfolded, initially rested dangerously close to a mass of subsea pipelines which connect into the Far North Liquids & Associated Gas System (Flags) pipeline.

A Shell spokeswoman confirmed both the Brent Alpha and Bravo have since been depressurised and a decision was made to evacuate all non-essential personnel today. She said: “Shell UK can confirm that an incident occurred on its Brent Alpha platform involving a lifting operation to transfer a container unit to an adjacent support vessel at around 1750hrs on Sunday 28 September 2014. The Brent Alpha platform is located approximately 115 miles North East of Lerwick. “Personnel on the platform were called to muster, all of whom are safe and well. As a precaution the Brent Alpha and Bravo, which were already shut down as part of ongoing maintenance works, were depressurised.

A rescue operation has since been launched and a vessel is currently travelling to the Brent field.

FULL ARTICLE

RELATED BBC NEWS ARTICLE 30 Sept :

Shell’s Brent Alpha fall container lowered to sea bed

A safety audit on the Brent Bravo platform in 1999 led by Bill Campbell exposed a “Touch F*** All” culture with safety records routinely falsified. The damning audit report was passed to then Shell EP director Malcolm Brinded, who made promises to remedy the situation that were not kept. Instead Brinded decided to put profits before safety. Hence the subsequent deadly explosion followed by a cover-up at the highest level of Royal Dutch Shell.

It seems from recently published articles and the evacuation news today that despite all the pledges and the appointment of a so-called safety Czar, nothing has changed.

Mark Carne and his former Shell colleague Malcolm Brinded were both responsible for Brent Bravo at one time and are now both involved with the UK railways, a development which does not inspire confidence in rail safety, despite recent comments by Mr Carne.

As always, it is deeds, not words, which count. 

RELATED

Mark Carne and the Shell Brent Bravo Scandal

Exclusive: Network Rail CEO slams rail safety record: Construction News-Sep 10, 2014

Network Rail chiefs cut board out spending decisions: Evening Standard-Sep 4, 2014

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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

Royal Dutch Shell News Monday 29 Sept 2014

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 14.02.38By John Donovan

A selection of current news articles about Royal Dutch Shell from around the globe:

Oil price fixing

According to a Bloomberg article published by energyvoice.com, the UK is considering whether to criminalize manipulation of the world’s most-traded crude-futures market.

Extract

The UK is toughening the rules after the rigging of Libor and related gauges resulted in $6.5 billion in fines for at least 10 companies. European Union antitrust authorities raided the offices of companies including BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Statoil ASA in May 2013 amid allegations of collusion and price manipulation in crude, refined products and biofuels markets.

Louisiana, USA

The St Charles Herald Guide has published an article under the headline: “1,000 plan to protest at Shell over emissions”

Extract

Around 1,000 protestors led by a former Army lieutenant general plan to picket the Shell asphalt plant in St. Rose after the state refused a request to implement air monitoring in the area. One Voice, a group formed in the aftermath of a 10-day emissions release by Shell in June, had asked St. Charles Parish to provide 24-hour air monitoring near the asphalt plant, which is located on IMTT’s campus in St. Rose. More than 130 people in the area said that the hydrogen sulfide released from the facility made them sick.

Stranded Assets

The NewYorker has published an article about the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The part the interested me discussed the issue of “stranded assets” in relation :

Environmentalists and some scholars have pointed out that investors value energy companies based largely on the reserves of coal, gas, and oil that remain underground. They argue that as climate change gets more intense, governments will increasingly enact laws that make it difficult—even illegal—for companies to extract all those resources. Those fossil fuels could become, in other words, “stranded assets” that are, for all intents and purposes, useless. That could lower the stock prices of the energy companies that have made money by taking them out of the ground.

This argument had gained enough traction by May, 2014, that an executive at Shell, facing questions from investors, felt compelled to write a twenty-page letter dismissing it. In it, the company argued that growing populations and economic development in places like China and India would send energy demand higher, with “fossil fuels continuing to play a major role in the energy system.” The letter went on, “Shell does not believe that any of its proven reserves will become ‘stranded’ as a result of current or reasonably foreseeable future legislation concerning carbon.”

Shell’s Arctic Misadventures: the sequel 

An article published by Petroleum News discusses legal hurdles surrounding Shell’s plans to resume arctic exploration next year:

Shell hopes to continue its Chukchi Sea exploration drilling program in the summer of 2015, presumably starting in July, after sea ice has retreated from the region. But, to achieve that target, the company must presumably start activating its drilling fleet several months earlier, an operation involving significant work effort and cost.

Shell’s Arctic plans and its related contact with the White House, are the subject of an article by nationaljournal.com “Inside Big Oil’s Fight Over Arctic Drilling Rules”

Extract

Shell began preliminary operations in the neighboring Chukchi and Beaufort seas in 2012, but suffered several setbacks and never won regulators’ permission to drill into oil-bearing subsea layers. A spill containment dome was damaged during testing off Washington state’s coast, and a drilling rig ran aground in December on its way back from the Arctic region. White House Office of Management and Budget records show that Shell officials and lobbyists including Pete Slaiby, the company’s vice president for Alaska operations, met Sept. 10 with aides for OMB and several other White House branches to discuss the upcoming rules.

Shell is named in a recent New York Times article about companies making political donations.

The Clarion-Ledger covers the same story.

Extract

Companies listed with cabinet level access include: Aflac, BlueCross BlueShield, Comcast, Hewlett-Packard, Novartis, Shell Oil, Verizon and Walgreens.

An environmentalist website has published an article warning: “Investors should be concerned that oil giant Shell is seeking increased regulatory flexibility for drilling in the Arctic, according to responsible investment charity ShareAction.”

India

Bidness Etc has published an article examining the recent deal between Shell and Gulf Petroleum to buy Shell’s Specialty Bitumen assets in India, as part of the Anglo-Dutch company’s fire sale of under-performing assets.

Norway

An Upstreamonline article says:

Shell has been given the nod by Norway’s petroleum agency to drill an appraisal at its Ormen Lange field in the southern Norwegian Sea.

Nigeria

According to a Nigerian Guardian article, Shell’s exit Strategy from Ogoniland is stirring controversy.

Brief extracts

Troubled on many fronts after decades of its operations (mainly during the military era), mixed reactions now trail Shell’s ‘alleged’ plan to sell off its 30 percent holding and those of Total (10 percent) and ENI (five percent) in OML 11, located in the heart of Ogoni region of Rivers State. THE multinational oil firm has been grappling with decades of frosty relations squabbles with the Ogonis as a result of oil spill and other environment-related ‘offences,’ forcing it to shut down the majority of the 23 fields on the bloc.

Abu Dhabi

According to an article published by The Telegraph: Royal Dutch Shell and BP are in the final running for a fiercely fought-over deal to operate some of the biggest onshore oil fields in the Persian Gulf, in what would be potentially a major triumph for British business in the region.

Somalia

Reuters reports that Shell is one of the companies funding an initiative to lure youth away from piracy.

Mexico

The Wall Street Journal says “Shell’s Experience in Mexico Could Help It Make a Deal in Gulf”:

Extract

CANCÚN, Mexico—Mexico’s energy overhaul will soon open up the abundant oil and gas lying beneath very deep waters in its side of the Gulf of Mexico, and few international companies are better positioned to grab the opportunity than Royal Dutch Shell PLC

It has been doing business in Mexico for decades, and has a 20-year partnership with Pemex, Mexico’s national oil company, in a refinery near Houston.

More to the point, Shell,…

Gulf of Mexico

An article published by Seeking alpha asked and answers the question: “How Important Is Cardamom Field For Shell?”

Royal Dutch Shell Prelude Project ‘A Step Too Far’

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 17.11.37By John Donovan

I have received a comment about the most recent Bill Campbell Prelude article from another expert, a former Shell executive. 

I refer to Hans Bouman, the retired Groningen Gas Field Asset Manager for NAM, a joint Royal Dutch Shell/ExxonMobil operation.

Mr Bouman is the expert who in 2002 warned Shell/Sakhalin Energy internally of his concerns over the Sakhalin2 project, including an unforgiving schedule, a theme he returned to a number of times. 

Extract from a May 2002 internal email from Hans Bouman to Engel van Spronsen, Technical Director, Sakhalin Energy:

“All this probably hearsay and no science or hard facts but still: I get this sinking feeling. I would NEVER EVER want to be schedule driven pre FID on a 9 billion $ project. That is asking for problems.”

This was four years prior to the debacle that occurred after  the project had indeed become hopelessly delayed and over-budget.

It is also worth remember that Mr Campbell is the Shell expert who warned Shell internally about serious shortcomings on the Brent Bravo Platform before a huge explosion from leaking gas killed Shell workers.

Given their track record, the unease expressed by these two experts in relation to the Prelude project should be taken very seriously.

COMMENT RECEIVED FROM RETIRED SHELL EXECUTIVE – HANS BOUMAN

PRELUDE – A STEP TOO FAR?

Another excellent article by Bill Campbell on the HSE aspects of the giant project Prelude. It should be compulsory reading for every professional and director in the upstream business as well as legislators and law enforcement agencies. It teaches people to ask the right questions and know upfront what the risks will be prior to committing to such a project. In short, thinking before doing! It is easy to issue nice posters, booklets and stories on the record-breaking magnitude of Prelude. That goes down very well at host governments who only see economic activity, employment figures and taxes. It would be much better if the same would be done on the HSE of this project. No director can later claim ‘they never told me’ so I did not intervene. But I have this sinking feeling some will. I see equivalents of invading far away countries based on some vague ideas. And after it has all gone wrong and misery spread to millions of people and billions of dollars wasted, new politicians will spin many stories and blur or re-write the past.

I personally think that Prelude is a step too far.

Hans Bouman

Royal Dutch Shell spent $1.32bn on R&D last year

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 13.57.28

By John Donovan

Ed Crooks of the Financial Times has written a wide-ranging and informative article about oil company spending on R&D.

Oil majors’ R&D into conventional and renewable energy at risk

Royal Dutch Shell spent $1.32bn on R&D last year.

The FT article quotes Gerald Schotman, Shell’s executive VP of R&D, as saying its key research is in its “upstream” oil and gas production business.

Schotman also claims that Shell’s innovations in imaging technology will enable the company to “see what others cannot see.”

Shell was apparently granted 189 US patents in 2013.

Prelude FLNG risks are on par with modern offshore oil and gas facilities say Shell – but are they?

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 18.54.34Final article in a series of five articles by Bill Campbell, retired HSE Group Auditor, Shell International, about risks relating to the Shell Prelude FLNG project.

Prelude FLNG risks are on par with modern offshore oil and gas facilities say Shell – but are they? Let’s discuss 

With the implementation of the recommendations post Piper A, turned quickly into legislation, the potential consequences of hydrocarbon releases have been markedly reduced, but Floating FLNG facilities cannot comply, other than that front end gas feed from the reservoir will be shut in and the process gas flared, huge amounts of volatile hydrocarbon liquids remain stored in the hull, which is also the primary structure supporting the process, utilities and the living quarters.

Prelude for example has in its hull, tanks with a capacity to hold 220,000 m3 of LNG, when the cryogenic liquid is returned to gas this equates to 132 million m3 of methane. It also has capacity for 90,000 m3 of LPG and 126,000 m3 of Condensate, with an overall capacity Shell states equivalent to 175 Olympic swimming pools.

If you compare this to a modern North Sea gas platform, they generally have a jacket supporting the Gas Process and utilities with a permanent bridge – protected from blast by the bulk of the utilities modules – across to a second independent jacket containing the Temporary Refuge (TR). It appears extraordinary to suggest that a FLNG installation can have the low risk levels that can be attained by such an arrangement.

Offshore installations have the unique requirement to be self-sufficient should an emergency occur. This legislation discussed above when enacted was credited with significantly reducing risks on North Sea offshore installations by limiting the potential for escalation and allowing through this process Operators (including Shell) to demonstrate in their submitted Safety Cases they could meet the stringent TR survival criteria.

That this legislation was needed is reflected in the continuing failure of North Sea operators to prevent (despite this being publicly stated to be the Industries highest priority) hydrocarbon leaks. These are still regular occurrences, from 86 in 2008 to 43 over the last reporting period. The 43 consisted of 35 significant releases and 9 major releases. According to the Regulator’s own definition a major release for example has the potential to quickly impact out-with the local area to affect the TR, its escape routes and other areas of the installation, causing serious injury or fatalities. This happened on average every 40 days during the last reporting period. For Prelude, or any other FLNG installation for that matter, to come anywhere near the low risks of a modern gas platform it would need to be immune from the chronic disease that affects the North Sea by having during its operating life no significant or major hydrocarbon leaks at all, full stop, period.

For LNG plants, size matters! 

The second issue that makes the risks of FLNG so high is the minute footprint of the hull deck. Shell states that Prelude takes up a quarter of the space taken by a land plant of similar capacity but can that statement be supported by fact? Are there any onshore plants in the world producing LNG, LPG, and condensate with similar throughput and including the offloading terminal and storage tanks that occupy an area just 4 times the deck area of Prelude?

The FLNG concept places a hazardous substances plant on a vessel on the high sea, where the confined footprint of the hull of these vessels cannot provide the separation distances afforded to land plants. These distances, considered necessary by law are to protect, not only employees within the plant fence, but communities that may be near the plant. The footprint of the Prelude hull is 488 by 74 m, or 36,112 square metres, some 3.6 Hectares (Ha), or circa 9 acres in old money.

To overcome this lack of space on Prelude the various process modules are stacked on top of each other requiring a large amount of passive fire protection, active systems such as seawater deluge being inadequate to cope with gas jet fires… To reduce risks it is common for hazardous substances plants, including LNG plants on land, to occupy up to hundreds of acres. This is because in simple terms, mitigation of the effects of explosion and fire and loss of containment is reduced by distance separation. The greater the distance the less is the probability of escalation or collateral damage from an initiating event.

Researching through the internet I cannot find land usage for a LNG plant either in existence or proposed that is anywhere near the meagre proportions of the Prelude deck, granted Prelude is a huge vessel because it has to be, and the continual overemphasis by Shell of its size detracts from the fact that as an LNG plant it takes up a very small area.

The total Prelude deck is 3.6 Hectares (Ha) or if you like, this equates to 1 Hectare per million metric tons per annum (mtpa) of LNG produced. This can be compared to Western LNG at Nisiski, Alaska, a 3 mtpa capacity plant which has the smallest land area I can find at 24 Ha or 8 Ha/mtpa. So it is 8 times the footprint of Prelude. To give you an idea of what this means is that this footprint would make the Prelude deck 3.9 kilometres long if the width were to remain as is at 74 metres.

Pluto LNG, Western Australia, is a 4.3 mtpa plant but covers 80 Ha, or 18.6 Ha/mtpa. Woodfibre, Vancouver, is a 2.1 mtpa plant and covers 86 Ha or 41 Ha/mtpa and Gladstone, Queensland, has an initial 4 mtpa capacity but has a land area of 190 Ha or 47.5 Ha/mtpa.  If we discount the Gladstone plant which may expand its capacity in later years the average of the first three plants in terms of footprint per million metric tons of LNG produced per annum is a staggering 22.5 Ha/mtpa, so not four times larger than the Prelude footprint, as Shell press releases suggest, but circa 22 times larger taking up an area of not 3.6 hectares but circa 79 hectares. To scale this up and give you an idea of what this means Prelude would have to be over 10 kilometres long to align with this footprint of the average onshore LNG plant using the small sample discussed.

So can anyone, anywhere, come up with a 3 to 4 mtpa LNG plant on land that takes up just 14.4 Ha which is 4 times the actual Prelude footprint of 3.6 Hectares which Shell declares is the area that Prelude would take up if installed on land. If such a plant exists Shell perhaps can tell us where in the World it is.

FLNG facilities are therefore at increased risk because of the confined area of the hull footprint. If Shell does not accept this then the industry certainly does. With reference to a paper by the Technip HSE Design Department quote there are many safety issues associated with the development of this new kind of facility. The potential risks due to the processing of hazardous substances which are magnified due to the close proximity of the liquefaction facility to the living quarters. FLNG facilities present new challenges in safety that result from a combination of complex processes, hazardous process fluids, harsh marine environment and a reduced footprintcompared to equivalent onshore installations unquote.

Total also got into the act quote in this type of floating plant there can be no compromise when it comes to safety, its confined spaces must accommodate living quarters as well as operations (liquefaction, storage and offloading) that involves large inventories of flammablegases. The major risk is blast that could set off other explosions in a domino effect unquote.

There are other risks that appear specific to Prelude FLNG which have been managed differently by others. The living quarters on Prelude, and because of the orientation of the vessel into the wind as it rotates around its single point mooring, is almost constantly downwind of the process and some 100 m from it.

The Total risk reduction strategy, and also that of Technip in their prototype deign for an FLNG facility, supports tandem offloading using cryogenic rated flexible pipe to transfer the LNG to the carrier vessel stationed 100 metres or so to the rear of the FLNG installation, rather than side to side transfer, as is the case with Prelude. This limits in their words the risk of collision. They also locate the accommodation at the bow to avoid being downwind of the process and as far as possible from the offloading area where the risk of LNG leakage is the highest in their opinion.

Fixed offshore installations, modern or otherwise, in the Norwegian or UK sectors of the North Sea take into account the prevailing wind direction statistics, and locate living quarters where they are most of the year upwind of the production and drilling processes – as a risk reduction measure. So in summary there are 4 factors that make the risks of Prelude FLNG higher than for conventional offshore installations handling gas and for a conventional LNG plant dispersed over a large area on land.

  1. Prelude stores within its hull, the primary structure that supports the process, a huge inventory of volatile hydrocarbons. The risks are therefore high because the potential consequences are higher should a major conflagration occur
  2. Offshore LNG plants such as Prelude cannot comply with the separation distances provided by the land area of onshore plants so the potential for collateral damage and uncontrolled escalation is greater. Although Prelude is a huge vessel it provides a very small footprint as an operating hazardous substances plant
  3. Prelude working almost continually with side to side offloading onto a carrier vessel has the combined risks of simultaneous operations as explained in previous articles and in particular the risk of collision, fire or explosion on the carrier vessel with subsequent collateral damage to Prelude. Spillage of the cryogenic LNG during offloading could also cause fracturing to the deck plates of one or both vessels moored in close contact
  4. Side to side loading increases the risks of LNG leakage impinging on the integrity of the living quarters. Other than in becalmed conditions, the living quarters being located downwind of any such release is such that the resulting methane-air vapour cloud that forms could simply circumvent the blast wall. Another risk consideration is that the change of phase from liquid to methane is accelerated when the LNG comes into contact with the sea when it vigorously reacts with seawater

To expand on Paragraph 4, it is the evaporation volumes as the liquid returns to its natural state that causes concern, just 100 m3 of LNG will convert into 60,000 m3 of methane and as the gas disperses it will enter its explosive range at 150,000 ppm or 15% methane in air when it reaches a volume of 400,000 m3 and is still explosive at 50,000 ppm or 5% when theoretically the vapour cloud has a volume of 1.2 million m3. If we consider the dimensions of the vessel at 488 long by 74 wide by 33.3 metres down to the water line this represents a volume of circa 1.2 million cubic metres. So 100 m3 of LNG can in windless conditions create a dome shaped cloud that engulfs the entire vessel and if a wind exists, as is the norm, such a cloud could engulf the TR, its escape routes and the lifeboats in a matter of minutes.

By implication therefore FLNG offshore installations must operate at higher risk than other offshore gas installations. Prelude FLNG specifically is designed with its living quarters downwind of the process and uses side to side loading both factors which others in the Industry accept increases risk.

There needs to be a more honest and open debate about the risks of FLNG. As I read the input of both Technip and Total to the subject their contributions are more sober, more reflective of realty and clearly some considerable assessment of FLNG risks have been undertaken by them. In contradiction to this are the bland, unsupported by any detail, statements by Shell as indicated by the title and introduction.

Again if I can refer to Technip quote FLNG being a new technology is not covered by existing Regulations, codes and standards, and good engineering practices as they do not account for the specific safety concerns of this new concept such as cryogenic risk with the process modules of an offshore facility unquote.

Whether you agree with the statement or not it is evidence of a more cautious and considered approach by the Industry than that adapted, at least publicly, by Shell, to what will be a very risky business. Risk assessment is not, or should not be an emotional or subjective exercise. It is not about pessimism or optimism, it’s about can it happen? And further, does it happen frequently? And can the consequences should it happen be potentially catastrophic? Sadly the answer to all these questions is yes, and any risk matrix worth its salt will recognize this as fact based on historic failure data and not ignore it.

While it is true that LNG leakages at onshore plants are few and far between when they have occurred the results can be catastrophic. There is also more commonly spillages during offloading, this has happened to Shell amongst others causing damage to the vessel deck plates. Also the venting LNG vapours has been ignited on Shell vessels (by lightning) both at the terminal and on the high sea.

In my opinion, and its only an opinion, and I would welcome your opinion, because an open an honest discussion is needed. For Prelude to attain the risk levels of a modern conventional offshore gas installation as described in this article the risk of hydrocarbon release on board that vessel needs to be negligible, but this appears to be an unattainable target, certainly in the highly regulated North Sea, and despite this being that Industry’s top risk reduction target. 

Prelude will need to be a very special vessel, with very special people to be leak proof, perhaps it can, but I have my doubts. 

Bill Campbell

RELATED ARTICLES

ARTICLE: Royal Dutch Shell Prelude to disaster?: 10 Jan 2014

ARTICLE: Shell Prelude FLNG: loss of containment of hydrocarbons almost inevitable: 21 Feb 2014

ARTICLE: What should frighten stiff Royal Dutch Shell shareholders: 15 March 2014

ARTICLE: Tales of the Unexpected and Royal Dutch Shell Prelude FLNG: 28 March 2014

ARTICLE: Prelude FLNG: A case of all your eggs in the one basket: 10 July 2014

Royal Dutch Shell News 23 Sept 2014

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 17.42.13By John Donovan

Nigeria

FROM THE DAILY MAIL

Shell has overhauled its security procedures in Nigeria to prevent oil theft that is costing it hundreds of millions of pounds. The Anglo-Dutch oil giant said it had stopped paying private security contractors to monitor its pipelines and oil facilities. 

Carbon Pricing

Forbes.com has published an article purportedly authored by Ben van Beurden, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

Why This ‘Big Oil’ CEO Believes In Applying A Price To Carbon

Extract

There’s much to do if we are to build a lower-carbon, higher-energy future. For Shell’s part, we wholeheartedly support the World Bank’s recent call for a carbon price to be applied throughout the global economy. Carbon pricing is one vital step, but there’s a long road ahead. To build the energy future we need, government, business and civil society must work together. With the right approach, one characterized by pragmatism, it can be within our reach. And, as CEO, I am determined that through our production of natural gas and our efforts to advance CCS, for example, Shell will continue to play our part.

Brazil

According to a Reuters reportThailand’s top oil and gas explorer, PTT Exploration and Production Pcl, has agreed to acquire a 20 percent stake in Brazilian offshore oil and gas concession BM-ES-23 from Royal Dutch Shell for an undisclosed sum. Earlier this year, the company agreed to sell a 23 percent interest in the Parque das Conchas field offshore Brazil for about $1 billion, as part of the $15 billion Shell fire sale of assets.

United States

BBC News says that President Obama has announced a crackdown on tax avoidance deals known as inversions. The practice involves a US firm merging with a firm in a country with a lower tax rate and has become popular over recent years. The President said: “We’ve recently seen a few large corporations announce plans to exploit this loophole, undercutting businesses that act responsibly and leaving the middle class to pay the bill, and I’m glad that [Treasury Secretary Jack Lew] is exploring additional actions to help reverse this trend.”

One of our regular contributors says ” This will affect Shell” and has drawn my attention to a related WSJ article.

Extract

Europe firms fear fallout from U.S. anti-inversion crackdown. Multinational companies based in Europe have launched an effort to avoid suffering collateral damage from Obama administration efforts to curb tax-inversion deals, the Financial Times reports. Big European companies typically avoid U.S. politics, but now firms including Nestlé SA, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Airbus Group NV and BASF SE are alarmed at the risk to their own U.S. divisions.

Australia

A number of articles, including this one, point out that Shell is now free to sell a 9.5% stake in Woodside Petroleum. Shell’s plans to sell the stake are part of its planned fire sale of $15 billion worth of assets by next May, including its Australian filling station network and an Australian refinery.

Greenpeace puts more pressure on LEGO 

LONDON, Sept. 22 (UPI) — Environmental advocacy group Greenpeace said toy company LEGO runs the risk of spoiling its reputation with its tacit ties to Shell’s arctic drilling campaign. With a new line of LEGO brand toys at Shell retail centers, Greenpeace now says it’s up to company’s like LEGO to break away from Shell or risk damaging their reputation should an accident in the arctic occur.

Russia – Shell shrugs off Russian sanctions 

Interfax reports that Shell intends to stay in Russia and is not yet concerned by sanctions against the country.

Much of the above text is taken verbatim from current news reports.

Tesco overstatement debacle reminiscent of Royal Dutch Shell reserves scandal

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 14.03.36By John Donovan

Tesco admits a £250m mistake in half-year profit calculations

Tesco share value has plummeted after the supermarket giant announced this morning that it had overstated its half-year profit guidance by £250m.

Four senior Tesco executives, including a managing director, have been suspended.

In view of what happened to Shell when it overstated its hydrocarbon reserves, can we expect law suits, investigations, fines, credit rating downgrades and resignations?

Royal Dutch Shell Group Chairman, Sir Philip Watts (right), was forced to resign and turned to religion. He is now a priest.

Daily Telegraph: Shell drops ‘bombshell’ on reserves: 9 January 2004

The Times: How Shell blew a hole in a 100-year reputation: 10 January 2004

The West Australian: Investors howl for Shell’s blood: 12 January 2004

London Evening Standard: Shell bosses lied to the City: 19 April 2004

Houston Chronicle:‘Sick and tired about lying’ at Shell: 19 April 2004

Bloomberg: Shell Loses AAA Credit Rating: 19 April 2004

BBC News: Shell bosses ‘fooled the market’: 19 April 2004

Daily Telegraph: Shell suffers second cut to credit rating: 21 April 2004

Daily Telegraph: Sacked Shell boss ‘escorted from HQ’: 22 April 2004

The Times:A very British kind of scandal: why Shell is no Enron: 23 April 2004

Daily Telegraph: Shell’s lies over reserves spark FSA investigation: 24 April 2004

The Mail On Sunday: Shell’s top bosses named in £8 billion lawsuit after being spared the sack: 25 April 2004

Daily Mail: Shell attacked from all sides: 26 April 2004

Daily Telegraph: Shell gives Watts a £1m golden farewell 23 May 2004

Shell paid the Irish Police €158,746

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 20.19.13


Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 17.29.11By John Donovan

We now have official confirmation that the Garda cops accused of brutality towards Corrib Gas Project protestors were working for Shell.

According to an article published today by The Irish Times, Shell has paid the Garda €158,746 for policing in Ireland, mainly arising from the force’s operation guarding the controversial Corrib gas pipeline in Co Mayo.

The article says:

Details of the fees charged by the Garda for what it terms “non-public duty”, carried out by Garda members working overtime, have never been released before.

The message conveyed in the above right graphic and the photograph below, was 100% accurate. 

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VICTIMIZATION OF EMPLOYEES RAMPANT AT SHELL-MOTIVA NORCO SITE

Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 19.20.35The article printed below was supplied to the Company Secretary & General Counsel Corporate of Royal Dutch Shell Plc., Mr Michiel Brandjes, on Monday 15 Sept 2014. I asked Mr Brandjes to also bring the article to the attention of Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden and the Shell-Motiva Security Supervisor named in the working headline. The parties were given the opportunity to take issue with the stated facts, comment and/or take legal action to prevent publication. No response has been received. It follows that Shell has also not disputed the authenticity of quoted internal email correspondence. Readers are free to draw their own conclusions.

WORKING HEADLINE: SHOVE-OFF BY JO KERKHOFF – VICTIMIZATION OF EMPLOYEES RAMPANT AT SHELL-MOTIVA NORCO SITE

This is the true story of a former U.S. Secret Service Agent and former Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security. He was hired by a contractor firm in June of this year to become Project Manager with responsibility for the security force at the Shell-Motiva Norco site in Louisiana. The site is spread over 700 acres, inclusive of a major refinery.

I have confirmed the remarkable background of this individual, who has worked in some of the most stressful operational settings. This includes his assignment as the Incident Commander for the rescue, relief, recovery and federal law enforcement activities in preparation for and in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, where he commanded vast personnel resources as well as small boats, aircraft and vehicles, for which he was granted seven high-level awards and commendations.

He has never encountered, in a career at the highest levels of the federal government, such a thoroughly unprofessional, hostile working environment, as he found at the Shell-Motiva Norco site.

The gentleman in question felt a sense of foreboding when he learnt that his immediate predecessor, Mr Kenneth Gustavis, who was employed by the same contractor, was being unceremoniously removed from the position in unusual circumstances. News that Mr Gustavis intended to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the contractor company and Shell-Motiva heightened his unease.

The likely underlying reason for the abrupt departure of Mr Gustavis (escorted off the property) soon became apparent. The alleged problem Mr Gastavis and his successor encountered can be described in two words: Jo Kerkhoff, a Security Supervisory working for Shell-Motiva.

The former Secret Service Agent alleges that her activities undermined the role of Project Manager; that she was unprofessional, power hungry, rude and consistently attempted to subordinate him, on one occasion repeatedly demanding that he should sit down (while she gave him a personal lecture).

Her emails to him were devoid of any attempt at normal politeness in communications between colleagues. The content of one email was: “You should come and see me.” Nothing else. No opening greeting. No sign off. No pretence of civility.

It soon became apparent that he was not alone in his assessment of Jo Kerkhoff. He received extremely negative feedback about her from many Shell-Motiva employees and contractor workers at the NORCO site. Her toxic reputation was widely known. Complaints were not lodged because of a fear of reprisal by her.

Since we only have the account of the former federal law enforcement officer about his dealings with her (other than internal emails I have seen, which confirm his account), I invite anyone who has worked with Ms Kerkhoff – present and past colleagues, subordinates, supervisors and contractors – to post comment on our Shell Blog about what she is like to work with. Is she a kind, considerate person of integrity, a professional who treats colleagues with respect and is a pleasure to work with, or the opposite – bullying, abrasive, rude and vindictive? There is no need to register to post a comment on the Shell Blog. All postings are anonymous unless you choose to reveal your real identify.

A contracting company is obviously in a difficult position if its employees are abused, bullied and mistreated by employees of a major global client. Appeasement is the likely outcome when multi-million dollar contracts are at stake, thereby allowing any such despicable behaviour to persist without retribution.

The gentleman in question sent a conciliatory email to Jo Kerkhoff in a genuine attempt to defuse the situation and in the hope of building a long term professional relationship. He did so after obtaining the prior approval of the contracting company and Mr Mike Cisnero, the Shell-Motiva line manager of Jo Kerkhoff.

On one occasion, a subordinate to Ms Kerkhoff, Mr. Brandon Lawler, was allegedly seen with his ear up to the office door of the former federal agent, listening for over three minutes during a conversation he was having with a Security Officer, Mr William McNeil. The decidedly low tech surveillance was reported to Mr. McNeil by another Security Officer.

The former Secret Service Agent also discovered to his astonishment that after the unpleasant meeting with Jo Kerkhoff, when she repeatedly demanded that he should sit down, Kerkhoff allegedly carried out an unauthorised and therefore potentially illegal and certainly unethical, “background investigation,” on him, claiming she had unearthed derogatory comments about him. No evidence was provided (the allegations were without foundation) and he was given no opportunity to refute the false comments, the basis on which he was allegedly removed from his post.

Naturally this gentleman of impeccable credentials and reputation is disgusted at his treatment by Shell-Motiva who apparently support the activities of Ms Kerkhoff, who remains in her position as a Security Supervisor at the Shell-Motiva Norco site.

Shell had advance sight of this article with an invitation to investigate and/or provide comment for publication on an unedited basis. I also requested that the allegations be put to Ms Jo Kerkhoff, so that she also had an opportunity for right of reply. It follows that Shell and Jo Kerkhoff also had the opportunity to seek an injunction to prevent publication.

(ANY RESPONSE BY SHELL OR JO KERKHOFF WILL BE PUBLISHED HERE)

This is an extract from the claimed Business Principles of Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

OUR VALUES

Shell employees share a set of core values – honesty, integrity and respect for people. We also firmly believe in the fundamental importance of trust, openness, teamwork and professionalism, and pride in what we do.

The hostile work environment encountered by the gentleman in question was apparently sadly lacking in many of these claimed core values, especially respect for people and professionalism.

(The Shell Business Principles on shell.com are still signed by the long-departed former RDS Plc CEO, Mr Peter Voser. This provides an indication of the lack of importance given to them by his replacement, Mr Ben van Beurden.)

There is perhaps a more sinister dimension. In the course of carrying out his duties, the former federal law enforcement agent suspects that he may have stumbled across “some sort of payroll fraud scheme.” He now wonders if this was a factor in the turn of events that led to his, and his immediate predecessors departure from security oversight at the Norco facility.

The basic rights of an employee, including fair treatment, appear to have been sacrificed in the commercial interests of two multi-national giants. This leaves Ms Kerkhoff free to continue with the alleged deplorable behaviour towards colleagues referred to above.

ENDS

Shale Fracking is a ‘Ponzi Scheme’

“Shale Fracking is a “Ponzi Scheme” … “This Decade’s Version of the Dotcom Bubble”

By John Donovan

A regular contributor has very kindly drawn my attention to an article published by GlobalResearch under the headline: “Shale Fracking is a “Ponzi Scheme” … “This Decade’s Version of the Dotcom Bubble”

In making the case to support the headline, the article contains a host of extracts from well known publications.

e.g.

A Losing Bet

In 2011, the New York Times wrote:

“Money is pouring in” from investors even though shale gas is “inherently unprofitable,” an analyst from PNC Wealth Management, an investment company, wrote to a contractor in a February e-mail. “Reminds you of dot-coms.”

“The word in the world of independents is that the shale plays are just giant Ponzi schemes and the economics just do not work,” an analyst from IHS Drilling Data, an energy research company, wrote in an e-mail on Aug. 28, 2009.

***

“And now these corporate giants are having an Enron moment,” a retired geologist from a major oil and gas company wrote in a February e-mail about other companies invested in shale gas.

The entire article can be read here

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