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ShellNews.net: Comments on Shell Brent Scandal received from a Shell insider

Dear Sir

I work for Shell and as you have mentioned yourself several times on your site, there is a strong reason to remain anonymous and I assume you will respect this.

Recently my attention was called to your site and I read about the tragic Brent fatalities. Your personal remarks in several postings are spot-on: people are afraid to speak out since it may have severe consequences if the boss does not like it.

This generally means requests for budget to fix things are frowned upon, since some directors see this as wasting money and steering profit away from the shareholders. It also may look bad on their scorecard, no matter how much effort is spent spinning stories these scorecards are ‘balanced’ in order to keep everyone honest.

The mere fact this is necessary indicates that Shell knows people will be dishonest if they think they can get away with it. This is indeed a fairly human behaviour, but in a good company where the true leader sets the standards and where there is loyalty to the company and respect for the business principles and standards, people will do what they think is good for the business. Not what is good for their personal benefit. But bad behaviour from the bosses triggers the same from the staff!

You deeply touched me by your accurate observations. So, let me share with you another story, this can be verified by many working in the Operations and HSE departments in Shell Expro or EPE and I hope some will step forward to provide more insight. It demonstrates the behaviour beaten into the workforce by the managers of the New Shell which Brinded etc all aspire to have.

Several months before the fatalities in Brent, a few operations staff (I cannot recall whether these were Shell staff of contractors or both) were involved in an incident in the Southern North Sea where someone dropped a spanner or other tool in a big pipeline. This had to come out otherwise it would jam valves or cause erosion/corrosion. 

Normally this would be reported to the office: ‘We have a problem, we screwed up by dropping something in a pipeline. What do we do now?’ Then a plan would be made and executed in a controlled manner. But this group of people decided they would not ‘invite’ the anger of their superiors, who would see loss in production, extra costs and hassle. No, one of the guys said: I will fix it, I can get into the pipeline and fish the thing out. Everyone working in this business knows that persons entering closed vessels is regulated by very severe protocols since it is one of the most dangerous activities one can imagine. But still he crawled in and managed to get himself stuck!!

After the initial panic, the others managed to get him out one way or another. And then they all decided to hush it up, scared of the consequences. (Personally I think an operator who crawls without an approved plan and programme into a closed vessel needs to be severely reprimanded, even if he was trying to save some money or speed up the operation. If he gets himself killed, the consequential damage is much higher and there are some things you simply do not do!). One does not drink and drive in traffic too!
But after a few weeks it all came out. I do not know anymore what the consequences were or what measures were taken to avoid similar happenings. Presumably nothing, otherwise the Brent people would still be alive today. Perhaps some Expro people may want to respond to this article?

Thanking you for your site and information it provides, I have bookmarked it and will check every day if there is some other drama developing.

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