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Shell, ENI prop up corrupt Nigerian regime

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Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 12.18.37FROM A NIGERIAN NEWS MAGAZINE: MARCH 2015

Nigeria’s Naira firmed 1.13 percent against the dollar on the interbank market in thin trade on Monday, supported by dollar flows from two energy companies, traders said.

The naira closed at 199.7 to the dollar compared with 202 on the interbank market on Friday, dealers said.

The central bank had set its intervention rate at 196.8/197.8 to the dollar on Monday, but dealers said the regulator had not yet sold dollars to lenders by 1302 GMT.

The Nigerian unit of Royal Dutch Shell sold an undisclosed amount of dollars while Eni sold $15 million, lending support to the naira, traders said.

The currency of Africa’s top crude exporter suffered its biggest monthly fall in over five years in February on concerns over political uncertainty and the central bank’s ability to manage a currency hammered by weak oil prices.

“There was not much of activity in the market today, apart from dollar sales by the two oil companies which boosted liquidity a bit and supported the naira,” said a trader.

Traders expect the local currency would be driven by availability of dollar inflows through anticipated month-end sales by oil companies during the week.

SOURCE

The Economist: Safe sex in Nigeria: (Court documents shed light on the manoeuvrings of Shell and ENI to win a huge Nigerian oil block): 15 June 2013

Malabu Oil Deal: I Only Got $1.1 billion bribe from Shell and Eni: 15 June 2013

Reuters: UK police probing Shell, ENI Nigerian oil block deal: 24 July 2013

The Scandal of Nigerian Oil Block OPL 245: 25 Nov 2013

SIGNED STATEMENT OF TRUTH: 10 Dec 2013

JUDICIAL REVIEW APPLICATION: DATED 10 Dec 2013

Nigerian lawmakers recommend revoking Shell, Eni OPL 245 oil block licence: 20 Feb 2014

Royal Dutch Shell Implicated in Nigerian OPL 245 Corruption Scandal: 11 Sept 2014

$190m frozen in UK and Switzerland in OPL 245 bribery case as ENI CEO is named as suspect: 11 Sept 2014

Safe Sex and Corruption in Nigeria – OPL 245: 18 Sept 2014

Eni payments ‘used to bribe Nigeria officials': 2 Oct 2014

APC questions Jonathan over Malabu Oil $550mn bribery scandal: 12 Oct 2014

OPL 245 Deal:Lawyers jostle to represent Malabu: 28 Oct 2014

Secrecy order lifted on legal challenge to corrupt Nigerian oil deal (OPL 245): 7 Nov 2014

Shell knew of fraud and moneylaundering activities during purchase of an oilfield in Nigeria: 30 Jan 2015

Nigeria: Malabu – Court Fixes Application to Halt Suit for March 12: 6 Feb 2015

NPD investigates shooting at Motiva supervisor’s home

By JohnDonovan

Several months ago we published an article about certain events at the Shell-Motiva Norco site in Louisiana involving alleged victimisation of employees:

VICTIMIZATION OF EMPLOYEES RAMPANT AT SHELL-MOTIVA NORCO SITE

Here is another article involving a Motiva Supervisor, this time published by beaumontenterprise.com: 

NPD investigates shooting at Motiva supervisor’s home

By Manuella Libardi: Published 4:03 pm, Monday, March 2, 2015

Nederland police are still investigating a Saturday shooting at the home of a Motiva Enterprises supervisor that damaged his vehicle.

Police Chief Darrell Bush said two shots were fired in the 800 block of N. 10th St. early Saturday. The gunman shot at the supervisor’s vehicle and some pellets also hit the house.

Police have been unable to determine whether the shooting was motivated by the recent strike at Motiva in Port Arthur, Bush said..

Bush said that linking the two this early in the investigation would be speculation. Police received a different call about gunshots in the area earlier that same Saturday, but officers didn’t find any evidence of gunshots, Bush said.

Police are treating the shooting at the Motiva supervisor’s home as an isolated incident.

Bush urges anyone with information to call 409-722-4965 or Crime Stoppers 409-833-TIPS (8477).

RELATED

Shell Oil and Motiva Enterprises $4.5M Settlement after U.S. DOL Investigation

Lawsuit challenges Port of Seattle lease for Shell Arctic drilling fleet

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Posted by Chris Klint, Senior Digital Producer, [email protected]: Mar 02, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 19.49.45ANCHORAGE – An array of Washington-based environmental groups has sued the Port of Seattle over a leasing agreement to host Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling fleet, claiming the deal was negotiated in secret and may pollute the port.

Shell contractor Foss Maritime received a two-year lease, announced in February, for 50 acres of waterfront property and the mooring of up to eight vessels. Port officials expected the lease to bring in at least $13 million in rent during the two-year period.

A Monday statement from Earthjustice says the suit, filed in King Country Superior Court against the port, asks the court to vacate the lease. The suit was filed on behalf of several groups including the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, the Sierra Club, the Washington Environmental Council, and the Seattle Audubon Society.

Shell announced in January that it was planning a return to the Chukchi Sea this year for offshore exploratory drilling, one of the company’s few expansion moves as it cut $15 billion in expenses due to plummeting oil prices. Shell CFO Simon Henry estimated the minimum cost of the operation and its support fleet at nearly $1 billion, whether or not the company is ultimately able to drill wells.

Earthjustice alluded to the chaotic aftermath of Shell’s 2012 drilling season, in which the drilling unit Kulluk ran aground near Kodiak.

The group also took objection to the planned reuse of the Noble Discoverer, a vessel cited by the Coast Guard for safety and environmental violations in 2012; owner Noble Drilling pleaded guilty to federal felony charges and paid hefty fines to settle them in December.

FULL ARTICLE

Dutch government says sorry for quakes caused by Groningen gas field

  • Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 19.27.29Mar 2 2015, 15:19 ET | By: Carl Surran, Seeking Alpha News Editor

  • The Dutch government apologizes for ignoring risks posed by earthquakes caused by production of natural gas from the Groningen field, following a report last month by the country’s safety board that found the government, together with Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) and Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM), had put profits before safety in exploiting the field.
  • The economic minister has ordered production at Gronignen to be cut by 16% for H1 2015, with another decision on production at the field expected on July 1.
  • The Groningen field accounts for two-thirds of Dutch gas production, and the Netherlands supplies ~15% of Europe’s total natural gas, providing an important alternative for Russian gas.

SOURCE

Groups to sue Port of Seattle over Shell drilling fleet

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 09.38.42SEATTLE (AP) – A coalition of environmental groups says it’s planning to sue to stop Royal Dutch Shell PLC from use Seattle’s waterfront as a homeport for its Arctic oil drilling fleet.

Groups to sue Port of Seattle over Shell drilling fleet

Posted: Mar 02, 2015 6:13 PM GMT

SEATTLE (AP) – A coalition of environmental groups says it’s planning to sue to stop Royal Dutch Shell PLC from use Seattle’s waterfront as a homeport for its Arctic oil drilling fleet.

The Port of Seattle earlier this month signed a two-year lease for 50 acres across from downtown Seattle to Foss Maritime, whose client is Shell.

The groups allege that the port violated state environmental laws when it did not do a review. The groups including Sierra Club and Seattle Audubon Society are holding a news conference Monday.

The port’s CEO has said that the lease complies with environmental regulations and will bring in about $13 million in rent over the two years. Eight vessels would be moored at the terminal.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SOURCE

JP Morgan Warns Royal Dutch Shell Investors

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By: MICHEAL KAUFMAN
Published: Mar 2, 2015 at 12:24 pm EST

In a report published on Monday, JP Morgan has advised the stock market participants to keep an eye on the “five key factors” that could undermine RoyalDutch Shell plc (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) earnings during the first quarter of fiscal 2015 (1QFY15).

JP Morgan is of the view that Shell high-margin assets are under attack on weaker crude prices. The sell-side research firm maintained its $49-56.75 price per barrel estimates for Brent crude. As the news crossed wires, the stock is trading down 1.67% at $64.28 as of 10:59 AM EST.

While JP Morgan remains cautious on European integrated oil companies in general, it has raised several fundamental questions particular to Shell. JP Morgan analyst, Fred Lucas, has noted that the gap between Brent and Western Canada Select (WCS) oil prices has been widening. Brent has somewhat recovered, but WTI price is at a standstill because of abundant shale supplies in the US. Since Shell has an exposure in Canadian oil sand assets, the weaker oil and gas prices could translate into a net loss for Shell Upstream Americas.

Moreover, the Dutch government has signaled stricter production checks on the Groningen gas field, due to seismic risks. The low-cost (and thus higher margin) asset comprised 6% Shell natural gas output in 2014. The field production is to be reduced by 16% in the first half of the calendar year 2015 (1HCY15); a 40% cut to the full-year FY13 output level is expected in FY16.

Additionally, the United Steelworkers (USW), the largest industrial labor union in North America, has hinted towards a possible walk-out on three Motiva refineries, that have a combined capacity of 1.1 million BOPD. Motiva is 50-50 joint-venture between Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Aramco, and is an important earnings contributor for Shell oil products.

Furthermore, one of the two 70 KPBD trains at Pearl GTL in Qatar, owned and operated by Shell, is currently shut down on a two-month planned maintenance. This another high-margin asset contributed to 30-40% of the group’s earnings in 2014.

The typical lag between the LNG contract pricing and crude prices is 4-6 months. Shell Integrated Gas will continue to show negative effects of the declining oil price, in the coming months.

Considering these factors, JP Morgan has updated small negative EPS changes for Shell in 2015 and 2016. The sell-side firm expects the oil and gas industry giant to realize $586 million and $1,022 million segment earnings from Chemicals, during FY15 and FY16, as compared to its prior estimates of $1,367 million and $1,007 million, respectively.

JP Morgan estimates $6 billion in exploration expenditure and $2.7 billion in exploration expenses in FY15. The sell-side firm had earlier forecasted $5 billion and $2 billion in the aforementioned categories, before the company’s recent guidance. It also revised capital spending projections upwards from $30.5 billion to $34 billion in 2015.

Moreover, the sell-side firm has updated its valuation model with a 25% decrease in upstream operating costs during FY15, and a further 5% reduction in FY16, due to lower royalties and energy costs. It is expected that Shell’s net debt would amount to $23.9 billion in FY15. JP Morgan also does not foresee any more share repurchases during 2015-16.

The revised EPS estimates at JP Morgan now stand at $1.27 and $1.66 during FY15 and FY16, respectively. This represents a 37% and 40% slash over the sell-side firm’s prior projections. The firm reiterates a Neutral rating and £21 price target on Shell stock, assuming a 5.8% flat dividend yield in 2015.

Out of the 16 analysts who cover the stock, six suggest a Buy and 10 recommend a Hold. The 12-month average target price assigned by the analysts to the stock is $72.41.

SOURCE

Bells toll for Europe’s largest gas field

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 19.27.29It accused the government and the field’s operators, Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil Corp, of ignoring the threat of earthquakes linked to the massive Groningen gas field for years.

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Toby Sterling | Reuters

WESTERWIJTWERD, Netherlands – Dutch church bells that for centuries have tolled to warn of floods across the low-lying countryside are sounding the alarm for a new threat: earthquakes linked to Europe’s largest natural gas field.

“Money can buy a lot of things, but a building like this cannot be replaced,” said Jur Bekooy, a civil engineer with the Groningen Old Churches Association, pointing to cracks in the ceiling and walls of the 13th-century Maria Church in the village of Westerwijtwerd.

Long ignored, voices like Bekooy’s are being heard as elections loom this month and following a damning report from the independent Dutch Safety Board.

It accused the government and the field’s operators, Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil Corp, of ignoring the threat of earthquakes linked to the massive Groningen gas field for years.

There are now questions about the future exploitation of the field that lies under the northern province of Groningen, with implications that reach well beyond its significance for Dutch state coffers.

Lessons from Groningen, which lies far from any natural fault line, feed into a debate over the threat posed by hydraulic fracturing in the United States, China, Britain and elsewhere.
The world’s 10th largest gas field, Groningen is expected to supply the bulk of the Netherlands’ annual gas needs of 20-30 billion cubic meters (bcm) until the mid-2020s.

The Dutch also have contracts to sell 40-60 bcm annually to buyers in Germany, Britain, Italy, Belgium and France. In all, Groningen and a few smaller Dutch fields supply 15 percent of Europe’s gas consumption, providing one alternative to Russian supply.

When Economic Affairs Minister Henk Kamp recently ordered production at Groningen cut by 16 percent, gas prices jumped across Western Europe.

RAMPED UP

Groningen has been in continuous production since 1963. As far back as 1993 small quakes were definitively linked to its output. But in the late 2000s, they suddenly became more frequent and stronger.

With government finances under pressure from the 2008 financial crisis, production at Groningen had been ramped up from around 30 bcm in 2007 to more than 50 bcm by 2010.

The money generated helped the Dutch cushion the blow of austerity policies championed by the Cabinet.

As Prime Minister Mark Rutte publicly pressed southern European governments to bring their spending under control, Dutch government gas revenues of 15 billion euros by 2013 were about the size of the national deficit.

Without gas, the deficit that year would have doubled from 2.5 percent to 5 percent, violating eurozone budget rules.

But on Aug. 16, 2012, an earthquake with its epicenter under the town of Huizinge marked the beginning of the end for aggressive output from Groningen.

It registered 3.6 on the Richter scale, larger than any predicted by engineers at NAM, the joint venture field operator between Shell and Exxon.

“Until the Huizinge earthquake, we had 1,100 damage claims in 20 years,” said NAM spokesman Sander van Rootselaar. “After the quake we had more than 30,000.”

Earthquakes caused by gas production are usually small, unless they happen near a fault line and can trigger a larger natural quake.

But in Groningen they occur close to the surface, damaging stone and brick buildings never designed to withstand shaking.

Of the 50 churches located above the field, some 40 have been affected, said Bekooy.

BELLS TOLL

When parliament gathered in The Hague to debate gas policy in early February, church bells all across Groningen province were rung in protest.

NAM has so far put aside 1.2 billion euros ($1.34 billion) to compensate damage claims.
More claims are rolling in, including after a 2.6 quake registered in the town of Appingedam last week.

But safety is the bigger issue.

In January 2013, the regulatory agency tasked with overseeing gas production warned the government of a “linear relationship” between the rate of production and the chance of earthquakes at Groningen.

It said it could not rule out quakes measuring 4 or even 5 on the Richter scale, with risk to human life.

The State Supervision of Mines advised production be cut “as quickly and as much as is possible and realistic.”

But that year, with the Dutch economy in recession, the Groningen field produced 53.4 bcm, its most in decades.

“In 2013, when it was very cold in Europe, there was enough gas in Groningen to really run it hard,” said Thomson Reuters Point Carbon analyst Oliver Sanderson.

The earthquakes continued. As the Dutch economy showed signs of recovery, Kamp ordered production temporarily lowered, to 42.5 bcm for 2014 and 39.5 bcm for 2015.

PRICES SURGE

Then, in February, the Safety Board issued its finding that NAM and the government had put profits first and “failed to act with due care for the safety of citizens in Groningen”.

After previewing the conclusions, Kamp on Feb. 9 ordered Groningen production cut to 16.5 bcm for the first half of 2015, implying a cut to 33 bcm for the year. Prices in Northwest Europe surged as much as 20 percent in response.

GasTerra, the Netherlands’ national trading company, was forced to purchase gas on the open market to meet its obligations.

The immediate impact of the Kamp output cut on prices has since faded, helped by mild weather across Europe and LNG deliveries.

“The underlying drivers are still bearish,” analyst Sanderson said, citing new LNG supply coming on line in Qatar and Trinidad, and prospects for more gas from Russia in the fall.
“But Groningen has helped at least put a question mark over how bearish they will be,” he said.
What is clear is the market is no longer counting on a return to higher production levels from the Netherlands. And without the Dutch acting as swing producers in a supply pinch, increased price volatility is likely.

GasTerra has said it will sign no new contracts, nor extend current ones as they expire.
With Dutch provincial elections set for March 18, parties across the political spectrum are demanding production be kept at current levels or reduced.

Kamp has delayed any decision until July 1, saying he awaits more expert advice.

KEEP DRILLING

In the journal Science last month, U.S. scientists said a global increase in gas-related earthquakes appears mostly linked to modern exploitation techniques – not only hydraulic fracturing, but also underground waste-water disposal and injecting carbon dioxide into depleted reservoirs to improve production.

“Although the United States is our focus here, Canada, China, the UK and others confront similar problems,” they wrote.

The threat “can be reduced” with a combination of better seismic tracking and access to industrial data on injections, said Art McGarr of the U.S. Geological Survey, lead author of the Science article.

That would “allow us to detect induced earthquake problems at an early stage, when seismic events are typically very small, so as to avoid larger and potentially more damaging earthquakes later on,” he said.

With bans on fracking in several European countries already in place, the concern about earthquakes will give gas opponents further ammunition. Public attitudes against gas production have quickly hardened in the Netherlands.

On the North Sea island of Terschelling, members of the city council voted unanimously last week against exploitation of a gas field with estimated reserves of 2.5 to 4.5 bcm.

In Groningen, activist Pi van Weert, whose home was damaged by quakes, says he wants the province to declare independence from the Netherlands to halt gas production completely.

“If I’m honest, there is no hope” for that, he said. “As long as the benefits outweigh the costs, they’re going to keep drilling.”

($1 = 0.8930 euros)

(Additional reporting by Nina Chestney in London; editing by Jason Neely)

Copyright (2015) Thomson Reuters.

SOURCE

New Shell MD in Nigeria

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 21.26.38Printed below is information from a press release about the new boss of Shell in Nigeria. I am sure Mr. Osagie Okunbor will be just as honest as the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and other Nigerian politicians and business people (including Internet entrepreneurs), all globally renowned for their virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, and straightforwardness. 

FROM THE PRESS RELEASE

A new Managing Director for Shell Petroleum Development Company, Mr. Osagie Okunbor, has assumed office succeeding Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu who retired on Saturday after 36 years of service. Osagie’s appointment had been announced in January while he was serving as a Senior Advisor in Shell’s Upstream International Operated business in The Hague, Netherlands.

The new Shell helmsman, who is also assuming the role of the Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, brings over 28 years of industry experience and expertise to the role his new role.

“I’m delighted at the opportunity to build on the progress we have made over the years. Shell continues to be a highly valued partner for progress in Nigeria and I’m looking forward to exploring more channels for fruitful collaboration with our stakeholders,” Osagie said as he took over from his predecessor weekend.

Okunbor is the third Nigerian MD of SPDC and Country Chair Shell Companies in Nigeria in a row. Mr. Basil Omiyi assumed office as the Managing Director of SPDC in 2004, and also became Country Chair of Shell Companies in Nigeria in 2008, the first Nigerian to hold both positions.

In a farewell note, the outgoing Managing Director thanked staff of Shell Nigeria and key external stakeholders for their dedication and support which enabled the company to collectively achieve the successes recorded during his tenure. “I am indeed proud to have made this remarkable journey with you and tremendously grateful to God for the privilege to have done so.”

A graduate of Business Administration from the University of Benin, Okunbor is an accomplished professional who has worked in Nigeria, the UK, Brunei and until now, the Netherlands.

His previous assignments included Vice President, Human Resources for Shell’s Upstream Business in Sub-Saharan Africa and Vice President, Infrastructure and Logistics Shell Nigeria. He is currently Senior Advisor in Shell’s Upstream International Operated business, based in The Hague, The Netherlands, from where he returns to Port Harcourt to take up his new role.

Commenting on the appointment, Vice President Nigeria and Gabon, Shell Upstream, Mr. Markus Droll, said: “We are delighted to see another Nigerian at the helm of affairs in Shell Nigeria. Mr. Sunmonu worked very hard over these years – managing production and setting a new agenda in dealing with communities, government and other key stakeholders. We’re confident that Osagie will consolidate and build on the progress we have made in the past years.”

Okunbor is married to Soala and they are blessed with children. He enjoys music and football in his spare time.

SOURCE

Oil Spill: Syndicates Defraud Communities As Shell Remains Adamant On Payout

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Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 08.16.28BY SAHARA REPORTERS, NEW YORK, FEB 28, 2015

An investigation by SaharaReporters reveals that several rogue syndicates have been selling oil spill compensation forms to members of oil-producing communities in Bayelsa State ostensibly to enable the residents to benefit from a fund established to compensate victims of the December 2011 Bonga oil spill. However, some concerned activists told Sahara Reporters that the sale of forms was exploitative, especially since it was not clear that those who file for compensation would ever receive any payment.

The House of Representatives and National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) had in November 2014 recommended a compensation of $3.98 billion for victims of the incident.

NOSDRA estimated that 40,000 barrels of crude were discharged into the Atlantic during an operational mishap in an oil field operated by Shell Nigeria Production and Exploration Company (SNEPCO).

However, a Shell spokesman, Joseph Obari, maintained at the weekend that the Bonga spill did not hit affect the shoreline, arguing that the company should not pay any compensation.

Even so, our correspondent found out that a variety of groups were selling tens of thousands of compensation forms to residents of the oil producing communities in the state.

Ebrasin Leghemo, a member of the Koluama 2 community in Bayelsa, said that a firm of valuers, Dutch Nigeria Limited, had allocated 10,000 forms to the communities.

“There are three groups involved and we negotiated with them to give us 10,000 forms at the rate of N1,000 for indigenes and N2,000 for non indigenes,” he said, adding, “We are told that each claimant would get N400,000.”

Mr. Leghemo continued: “We heard that the House of Representatives has mandated Shell to pay $3.98 billion to the affected communities and we have secured the 10,000 slots for our community for impacted people amongst us.”

Meanwhile, various agents of the firm of valuers were in the area selling the forms in bulk. Some members of the various communities told our correspondent that they had paid between N1,000 and N1,500 to get one.

One resident, James Wilson, said he had filled out and returned a form he bought for N1,000. He said he filed claims for both the Bonga oil spill of December 2011 and Chevron’s rig explosion of January 2012. According to him, he had filed individual claims for N350,000 in damages from the two incidents.

However, Alagoa Morris, an environmental and human rights activist, has voiced concern over syndicates selling the forms to members of the oil communities. He disclosed that the activities of the ‘faceless syndicates’ were suspicious.

Mr. Morris urged the Bayelsa State government to investigate the firms behind the form-selling scheme to save unsuspecting members of the public from exploitation.

SOURCE

Extract from a comment received by Sahara Reporters

Welcome to Nigeria – The scamming “capital” of the world. From top to toe, from head to tail – all is rotten. In a country where the law enforcement and judiciary are corrupt and refuse to work with integrity, then the citizens and criminals will do as they like, knowing that next to nothing will ever happen to them, that there are no consequences to their bad behaviour. Even on the rare occasion that a cheat is caught, all they will do is bribe the police, bribe the lawyers, bribe the judges. Hardly a day passes that I myself am not cheated one way or another.

ENDS

PHOTO: London Rising Tide protestors outside the Royal Courts of Justice to highlight Shell’s devastating pollution in Nigeria

Lynn Hughes and Shell

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Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 21.26.38U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes

In an extremely rare move, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has removed a case from U.S. District Lynn Hughes’ docket after the Houston federal court judge declined to rule the way the appellate court wanted in a case involving Shell Exploration.

The recent decision in United States v. Shell Exploration involves a qui tam False Claims Act (FCA) action brought by two individuals against Shell alleging that the company had failed to pay the U.S. government at least $19 million in oil royalties.

The government declined to intervene in the case.

In 2012, the Fifth Circuit reversed Hughes after he issued a summary judgment for Shell dismissing the plaintiffs’ case. The appellate court concluded in a case of first impression that the FCA did not prohibit government employees from filing qui tam actions. The appellate court also concluded in that decision that Hughes erred in dismissing the case by using an overly broad standard of “public disclosure.” The FCA bars prosecution of cases based on publicly disclosed allegations.

After the case was remanded, Shell refiled a motion for summary judgment, which Hughes granted in 2014, dismissing the plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice because of the public disclosure bar. The plaintiffs appealed Hughes’ decision to the Fifth Circuit.

In a Feb. 23 opinion, the Firth Circuit again reversed Hughes.

“Shell has not pointed to a single public disclosure of the fraudulent scheme alleged in this case, and there is no basis for applying the public disclosure bar. We therefore reverse the judgment of the district court,” Judge Eugene Davis wrote in the unpublished decision.

But this time they used an “extraordinary” and “rarely invoked” appellate court power by directing the Shell case to be assigned to another judge.

“In the prior appeal, we declined to have this case reassigned to a different judge on remand. The circumstances are now different because the district court judge disregarded our clear mandate and failed to apply the legal standards we established in our opinion for public disclosure and to address the specific questions we set out in that opinion,” Davis wrote.

“Facing a lengthy and detailed summary judgment record, the district judge issued a five-page opinion with few citations to either record evidence or relevant legal authority—not surprising given that neither the summary judgment evidence nor the law to support the conclusions he reached,” Davis wrote. “The opinion consists almost entirely of conclusory statements. The district judge reached the same conclusion he reached in his previous opinion by employing the same overly broad reasoning that we rejected before.”

The decision vacates and remands Hughes’ judgment and directs the chief judge of the Southern District of Texas to reassign the case to a different district judge.

Hughes declined to comment about the decision.

SOURCE ARTICLE – ACCESS SUBJECT TO SUBSCRIPTION

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

High Court dismisses Shell Centre challenge

From an article by Allister Hayman published 25 Feb 2015 by PropertyWeek.com

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High Court dismisses Shell Centre challenge

A judge has rejected a legal challenge to Eric Pickles’ decision to approve the controversial £1.2bn redevelopment of the Shell Centre.

The ruling today means joint venture developers Canary Wharf Group and Qatari Diar can now proceed with their redevelopment of the 27-storey Shell Centre tower, which includes eight new buildings and comprises 800,000 sq ft of office space, 80,000 sq ft of retail, restaurants and cafés, and up to 790 new homes.

The ruling looks set to bring to an end a long battle over the scheme on the River Thames.

FULL ARTICLE

Houston We Have A Problem: Oil Workers Strike For Safety & Fair Labor

Article by Alvaro Rodriguez and Jane Nguyen published 25 Feb 2015 by MINTPRESS NEWS under the headline:

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Oil workers holding picket signs in front of the Shell oil refinery in the Houston Ship Channel

In the largest strike since 1980, oil workers who are members of United Steelworkers District 13 locals (Locals 13-1 and Local 13-227) are no longer on the job in the Houston Ship Channel, the largest petrochemical complex in the world. The strike kicked off on February 1, 2015.

The three plants impacted by the strike in Houston include Shell Oil Refinery and Chemical Plant, LyondellBasell Refinery and Marathon (refinery and cogeneration facility).

The union is under attack in Texas, with USW members locked out at the Sherwin Alumina plant in Corpus Christi and the ASARCO facility in Amarillo. The attack on the union is occurring while the industry made record profits. Royal Dutch Shell announced earnings of $19 billion in 2014. LyondellBasell had record profits of $7.1 billion (EBITD) in 2014, cash generation of $6.0 billion. These profits in large part went to reward stock holders rather than repairs — with stock repurchases prioritized over worker safety —  to the tune of $7.2 billion in dividends. This largesse extended to a jump in compensation for their corporate officers.

The USW oil workers rallied at Shell headquarters in Downtown Houston (1 Shell Plaza at 901 Louisiana) on Friday, February 6 to “show management that union workers are united in their drive for a fair contract that improves safety throughout the industry.”

The safety record of Texas industry is abysmal. Texas continues to experience a large number of fatalities, chemical releases, fires and explosions. EHS Today reports that nearly 5,000 workers die each year as a result of fatal occupational injuries in Texas. These preventable deaths devastate families and workplaces.

According to a recent Dallas Morning News investigative report, “Houston has the worst record in Texas and Texas has the worst record in the nation when it comes to workplace fatalities or catastrophes.”

FULL ARTICLE

RELATED

U.S. refinery strike continues with no steps toward settlement: REUTERS 25 Feb 2015

Extracts

Reuters) – The largest U.S. refinery strike since 1980 continued through its 25th day on Wednesday with no movement toward renewed talks to end a walkout by 6,550 union workers at 15 plants, including 12 refineries accounting for one-fifth of domestic capacity.

A spokesman for lead refinery owner representative Shell Oil Co, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, said no face-to-face meetings have been scheduled with the United Steelworkers union (USW) as of Wednesday.

“No date has been set (for talks to resume,)” said Shell spokesman Ray Fisher. “Not sure if there has been any contact (between the two sides).”

FULL REUTERS ARTICLE

That sinking Feeling

Financial Times article by Christopher Adams, Michael Kavanagh and Chris Tighe: 25 Feb 2015

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That sinking feeling

North Sea oil was a challenge before prices halved. Now the UK industry fears a fatal blow

The plunge in prices, a tax system that deters investment and a failure by producers to co-operate could lead to a wave of early field closures and accelerated moves to decommissioning.

FULL ARTICLE

Keystone and the Riddle of the Tar Sands

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BY MARK DOWIE 2/25/15 AT 10:49 PM

Late 21st-century graduate students of business studying the growing problem of stranded assets will almost certainly focus on the history of Canada’s Athabasca Oil Sands (a.k.a. the tar sands). The case studies they read will either describe the gradual abandonment of the world’s largest reserve of bituminous crude or they will read about the tar sands’ miraculous last-minute escape from becoming the world’s largest stranded asset.

For either outcome, the turning point they will look back on is just about now.

In some respects Alberta’s gigantic deposits of bitumen, a dense mixture of sand and heavy crude oil, third in size only to the reserves of Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, were stranded from the start by location. Situated in the heart of a vast boreal forest at the center of a very large continent, they are hundreds of miles from the nearest refinery and thousands more from navigable tidewater.

Of course, some of Alberta’s crude has made its way to market, but so much slower than it could have, or was projected to, that producers, refiners, shippers, banks and other investors in tar sands development are beginning to wonder whether they have backed a good play by investing over $160 billion to turn tar into oil.

So the economic stranding process has already begun. Five global energy giants—Shell, Total, Suncor, Statoil and Occidental—have cut bait on major bitumen deposits in Alberta, in which they had already invested billions. Suncor has just slashed another billion dollars from its capital spending program and $800 million more from operating expenses. And as oil prices slide lower, commercial and investment banks are reconsidering future underwritings. An industry that recently envisioned doubling production over the next 20 years is now looking at something closer to the opposite: a halving of production or worse in far fewer than 20 years.

American media coverage of the tar sands has focused primarily on the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which, if completed, would carry 830,000 barrels of Athabasca crude, every day, to the world’s largest refining center near Houston next to a booming export hub.

Because American and Canadian politicians and oil executives have lobbied so hard for its approval, Americans tend to believe that construction of Keystone will secure the future of the tar sands. Not true. To even approach a break-even point, at least four other pipeline routes will be needed to carry bituminous crude to the world’s market: two to the Canadian west, one to the East and one to the North.

If two or three of those lines are somehow stopped, and that’s quite likely to occur, the stranding of the tar sands will escalate, Canada will cease being a petro-state, and its business leaders will begin their search for yet another staple to drive its national economy.

A Staples Economy

Canada has always been what economists call “a staples economy,” reliant almost completely on one staple resource after another. Fur was followed by cod, then wheat, potash, minerals, timber and hydropower. Today, Canada’s staple resource is carbon, some of which is derived from coal but most of it from oil. Oil, in fact, represents 46 percent of Canada’s commodity production.

Unfortunately, over 90 percent of its reserves are bitumen, the costly production of which nets only 4 percent to Canada’s gross domestic product. But oil represents 40 percent of the country’s exports. So the urgency to develop and export the tar sands oil has become a national priority.

Canada’s tar sands booster-in-chief is Prime Minister Stephen Harper, an Alberta-based petrolero who rose to prominence in politics as chief policy officer of the Reform Party, Canada’s version of the American Tea Party. Founded in 1987, Reform merged in 2000 with the floundering Progressive Conservative Party to form a new and almost unbeatable national coalition calling itself the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance. (After adding Party to its name, it became CCRAP and was nicknamed “see-crap.”) Harper became party leader of CCRAP, which has since won two national elections. It’s as if Ted Cruz became the Republican front-runner and won the White House twice.

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Once a member of Canada’s Young Liberals and a supporter of Pierre Trudeau, Harper went west as a young man, worked in Alberta’s oil fields and followed his father into employment with Imperial Oil, Canada’s second-largest petroleum company (69 percent owned by Exxon Mobil). There, like so many other western Canadians, he grew to despise Eastern Canada, rather like the scion of a prominent American family moving from Connecticut to Texas.

In Calgary, he became an outspoken and eloquent opponent of Justin Trudeau’s National Energy Plan, which seemed set upon nationalizing Canada’s last staple resource. While there is still talk of nationalizing oil and tar sands oil in Canada, and in some polls a majority of Canadians support the idea, that couldn’t possibly happen with Harper in power.

At the 2012 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Harper announced that the expanded production and export of tar sands bitumen was a national priority. Canada, he predicted, was set to become an energy superpower. In Ottawa, he took immediate and aggressive steps to weaken environmental protections like the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which was hindering pipeline construction, and to fast-track tar sands production.

But Harper’s focus remained on Europe, where in 2012 the European Parliament and member European Union governments were debating terms of a revised Fuel Quality Directive and considering an official ban on the import of “dirty fuels”—oil shale, liquid coal and tar sands, all of which have high extraction impacts, releasing more greenhouse gas than conventional oil through their “well-to-wheel” life cycle. A Stanford University study that many members of the EU Parliament relied on projected a 23 percent increase of life-cycle carbon emissions from tar sands production.

Harper and his advisers immediately saw the danger of that study and the disaster a European ban on dirty fuel represented for Canada’s largest new staple. One vote in Brussels could leave the tar sands stranded immediately and forever, even if oil producers found a route to the Chinese market.

During the two years leading up to the EU parliamentary vote on the issue, Harper mobilized Canadian oil executives and his Cabinet behind a $30 million nation-to-nation lobbying effort. Their first target was the Stanford study, which they drove into the ground with their own industry-funded studies.

Week after week, planeloads of oil execs and PR flacks crossed the Atlantic, Harper aboard whenever he could be, laterally threatening a trade war with Europe if the vote went the wrong way. Side trips were made to Washington. And members of the European Parliament were flown to Ottawa and Alberta for gold-plated junkets.

Without Harper’s effort, the Parliament in Brussels would almost certainly have voted to ban dirty fuels. After two years of intense lobbying, the measure lost by a 12-vote margin, 337-to-325, with 48 abstentions. A few months later, in the fall of 2014, the first shipment of tar sands crude arrived in Europe, with many more to follow, as a vote on the Fuel Quality Directive will not come up again for at least four years.

In the meantime, if a few EU member nations condemn tar sands oil, and ban its import, more small nails will be driven into the tar sands coffin. And if two of the proposed source-to-port pipelines on the drawing boards are blocked (see map and sidebar here), more producers and investors will abandon the sands.

If Canada’s tar sands do one day become stranded, the equivalent annual emissions of over 65 coal-fired plants and 50 million passenger vehicles will remain underground. And a lot of the credit (or blame) will go to environmental activists, aboriginal communities, litigious farmers and groups like Greenpeace, NRDC and 350.org, which have added to their anti-pipeline advocacy a campaign to pressure institutional investors to divest their “Big Fossil” holdings. Even before divestment began, nine out of 10 tar sands producers’ stocks had underperformed the market. So they are vulnerable.

Strand Their Capital

According to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a think tank in Cleveland, the campaigns of environmentalists and native communities have already cost tar sands producers $17 billion. But that has not stemmed the determination of the North American fossil-fuel industry to move Athabasca crude to refineries around the world.

Despite the insistence of American Republicans and petroleros that everything rests on completion of Keystone XL, the pipeline means little to the U.S. economy. In Canada, however, economists estimate that U.S. rejection of the pipeline could cost the country as much as $1.7 billion a year, far more significant than the loss of 200 or 300 permanent jobs the pipeline would create in the U.S. And by simply raising the break-even point higher than it already is for bitumen producers, stopping Keystone could place the tar sands in far greater danger of being stranded.

While assets like the tar sands should be stranded, because mining and burning them will raise the temperature of an already overheated planet a degree or more, they are more likely to become stranded because they are either unable to reach market or have lost market value.

The sad irony is that before Canada selected tar sands crude to be its staple export, the country was poised to become a major global contributor to clean energy. It had signed climate treaties, promoted solar energy, developed hydroelectric power and had a prosperous renewable-energy industry under sail, for which the country possessed all the necessary natural and financial resources.

Then one powerful neoliberal free-market zealot decided to double down on high-carbon fuels and announce to the world that tar sands would become the next nation-building staple for his country.

It appears he was wrong about that, which would not be a bad outcome for the planet.

Journalist Mark Dowie is the author of Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict Between Global Conservation and Native People. This article appears in the March 2015 issue of The Washington Spectator.

SOURCE

Offshore oil drilling opponents scold Port of Seattle for Shell deal

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Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 22.42.39Article by Ted Land, KING 5 News: 24 Feb 2015

SEATTLE — The Port of Seattle got quite the earful, Tuesday from a group opposed to offshore oil drilling.

They’re irate that the port is doing business with Shell, which plans to use Terminal 5, near West Seattle, as a launching point as it prepares to drill in the Arctic.

“It appears the port has forgotten that it’s a public agency entrusted with making decisions in the general public interest,” said Peter Goldman, an environmental attorney who was among more than a dozen people to testify at the port commission meeting.

They scolded the Port of Seattle for rushing the deal with Shell last month and not allowing enough public input. The agreement came as a shock to many opponents, who felt like their voices were never heard.

They say the lease deal with Shell is essentially an endorsement of offshore oil drilling. Ironic, they say, Seattle’s goal is to have one of the greenest ports in the country, as highlighted in a video on the port website, which states it’s the port’s responsibility to “preserve our environment for future generations.”

The commission listened and then moved on to other items. Opponents say they’re now planning legal action.

SOURCE

Canada’s energy slump to wipe out $23-billion over two years

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 08.45.23From an article by Jeff Lewis published 24 Feb 2015 by The Globe and Mail under the headline:

Canada’s energy slump to wipe out $23-billion over two years

Extracts

The slump in Alberta’s energy sector is set to wipe out billions more in corporate earnings, complicating growth plans and putting investor dividends at greater risk.

An analysis of more than 30 major oil sands projects by consultancy Wood Mackenzie Group says as much as $23-billion (U.S.) of cash flow will disappear over the next two years – even if U.S. crude oil prices rise to $55 a barrel this year and $65 in 2016 from today’s lows.

Even as the energy sector reels from the sharp drop in oil prices, the Edinburgh-based consultancy said a series of expansions and new projects where investments were made long before oil prices hit the skids will add as much as 458,000 barrels per day of oil sands production over the next two years.

Companies across the energy sector are deferring spending, cancelling new projects and ratcheting up pressure on suppliers to cut rates in a bid to lower overall costs and offset dwindling profits.

This week, Royal Dutch Shell PLC shelved plans for a 200,000 barrel-a-day mining venture north of Fort McMurray, Alta. called Pierre River, saying the project is no longer a priority as it seeks to wring better performance from its existing assets. The global oil giant last month cut some 300 jobs from a separate Alberta oil sands project.

FULL ARTICLE

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