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September 14th, 2006:

Daily Mail: Shell fined £73m over price fixing

14 September 2006

ROYAL Dutch Shell, which had been enjoying a brief respite from regulators, has been fined £73m by the European Commission for its part in a cartel that fixed prices of road bitumen for eight years.

The EU fined 14 companies a total of £180m. Shell’s fine was the heaviest, and was raised by 50pc for its leading role in the cartel and lOpc for obstructing the probe. Shell’s shares closed down 12p to 1803p.

Others probed included Kuwait Petroleum, Total, and BP. By co¬operating, BP escaped a £20m fine.

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Shell Whistleblowers Helpline (perhaps a bit late in the light of recent events)

Alfred Donovan

(The Wall Street Journal sketch above is reproduced
in accordance with our “Fair Use Notice)

Friday, 15 September 2006

By Alfred Donovan

With news of Shell being fined $138 million by the EU for masterminding an illegal cartel, this seems like an appropriate time to write an article about the introduction of the “Shell Global Helpline”. 

In case you have not yet heard about this Shell initiative, it is an internet based facility for whistleblowers to report alleged violations of the law or of Shell General Business Principles (the SGBP); the Shell code of ethics pledging transparency, integrity and honesty in all of Shell’s business dealings.

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Bloomberg: Gazprom to Expand in Sakhalin Amid Talks With Shell (Update1)

By Torrey Clark

Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) — OAO Gazprom, the world’s largest natural-gas producer, signed its first cooperation agreement with Russia’s Sakhalin region, where the company is in talks to join Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s $20 billion project.

The island’s administration agreed to support Gazprom’s bids for onshore and offshore licenses and Gazprom agreed to help build a gas-pipeline network and hire local workers, the Moscow-based company said in an e-mailed statement.

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crikey.com: Yes, Virginia, there really is an oil cartel

Date: Thursday, 14 September 2006
Michael Pascoe writes:

As every populist raving about petrol prices knows, there’s been an evil Big Oil cartel operating against the best interests of consumers. What the populists perhaps didn’t know is just what price they were conspiring to fix – Dutch bitumen.

As the BBC reports the European Commission has busted the Big Oil cartel after BP squealed. (See, you just can’t trust a petrol pusher who claims the initials stand for “beyond petroleum”.) BP escaped without penalty but Shell copped a fine of $183 million while Total, Kuwait Petroleum and six road builders had to come up with $268 million between them for conspiring to fix the cost of bitumen in the Netherlands.

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The Minnesota Daily: The end of the global warming debate

September 14, 2006

With the debate over, the media need to stop giving the skeptics airtime.
By Holly Lahd

To take a line from Fox News, “fair and balanced” journalism is a hot topic in our extremely polarized society right now. To avoid charges of bias from both the left and the right, the media strives for balanced journalism in all issues. Often this means having experts from both sides of a debate duke it out (professionally, of course) for the public to judge. But when the media reports on science, can they still use the model of balanced journalism without compromising the truth?

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The San Diego Union-Tribune: Shell pitches ‘energy security’

Timetable is offered for Baja arrival of LNG
By Diane Lindquist
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
September 14, 2006

Shell Oil executives said yesterday that the company’s first supplies of liquefied natural gas to fuel Baja California and California power plants will start arriving at a Baja California re-gasification facility by the third quarter of 2008.

V. Mark Hanafin, president and chief executive of the Shell Trading arm of the Shell group of global oil, gas and petrochemical companies, said slightly more than half of Shell’s LNG tanker shipments, which will be re-gasified at the Energía Costa Azul terminal, will be sold to power plant customers on the U.S. side of the border.

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The Canadian Press: A basin full of huge oil potential

Exploration well drilling starts in Newfoundland’s Orphan area
By JAMES STEVENSON

CALGARY — Drilling has started on the very first exploration well in the Orphan Basin, a massive and relatively unknown area in the Atlantic Ocean northeast of St. John’s, N.L., in what one partner described Wednesday as a “wild bet” to find vast oil reserves.

Shell Canada, which holds a 20 per cent stake in the 21,000-square-kilometre exploration play, said the well was spudded in the middle of August and should take between 100 and 120 days to drill. Early indications of what it uncovered should be known by year’s end.

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Reuters: Qatar Oryx GTL project ‘delayed’

Reuters – 13/09/2006

Technical problems have delayed commissioning of the Oryx gas-to-liquids plant in Qatar and the plant’s output will not reach the market until the first quarter of next year, the plant’s operator said.

Previously the plant had been scheduled to start selling fuel this year but problems with a super heater have caused delays, a spokesman for South Africa fuels company Sasol said.

Oryx is the world’s first commercial-scale gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant. The plant will produce 34,000 barrels per day of liquid fuels from natural gas.

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UpstreamOnline: Shell scoops Malaysia awards

 Shell Malaysia Chairman Saw Choo Boon

 (Shell Malaysia chairman Saw Choo Boon) 

By Russell Searancke
14 September 2006

Shell Malaysia’s upstream and downstream assets won multiple awards including the grand prize at a Malaysian Society for Occupational Safety and Health (MSOSH) ceremony.

At an awards presentation on 8 September, Shell’s Labuan crude oil terminal garnered the Grand Award, the top prize in the sector for 2005.

Gold Merit awards went to Shell’s Port Dickson refinery, its Bintulu onshore facility, and its M1 offshore platform.

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Asahi Shimbun (Japan): Sakhalin II is already a year behind schedule

YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, Russia–A huge Sakhalin gas and oil project led by Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Japanese trading houses Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp. has been suspended by a Russian ministry.
Asahi Shimbun
Published: Sep 14, 2006

Sakhalin II, which is expected to produce 9.6 millions tons of liquefied natural gas, the equivalent of 10 percent of the world’s current annual production, is already a year behind schedule

Sources close to the development said the government of President Vladimir Putin is trying to tighten control over development of natural resources

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Financial Times: Groups fined over bitumen cartel: Shell received by far the biggest fine, €108m

By Tobias Buck in Brussels

Published: September 14 2006 03:00 | Last updated: September 14 2006 03:00

Shell, Total and 11 other companies were yesterday fined a total of €267m ($339m) after the European Commission found they had fixed prices in the Dutch market for road bitumen.

A cartel brought together eight suppliers and five buyers of bitumen, a substance used to make asphalt for road surfaces.

In a series of meetings between 1994 and 2002, the cartel’s members agreed prices and rebates aimed at freezing out smaller construction groups that were not part of the agreement.

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Financial Times: Energy companies asked to aid scheme

By Fiona Harvey
Published: September 14 2006 03:00 | Last updated: September 14 2006 03:00

Energy companies will be asked by the governmentto contribute to a £500m scheme to research new low-carbon forms of energy.

Detailed plans for an Energy Technologies Institute, promised in this year’s Budget by Gordon Brown, will be set out today. The aim of the institute, to be jointly funded by the taxpayer and private companies, will be to develop new sources of energy that reduce the output of greenhouse gases.

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The Times: Stop Press: Firms fined for fixing bitumen prices (including a €108 million penalty for Shell)

September 14, 2006 
 
Europe’s top antitrust authority fined 14 companies a total of €266.7 million (£180 million), including a €108 million penalty for Shell, for fixing prices of road surface material bitumen in the Netherlands. Four of the firms said that they intended to appeal. Shell received the biggest fine, while its French peer Total was ordered to pay €20.25 million. An EU competition spokesman also revealed that it was inspecting suspected bitumen cartels in Spain and Belgium.
 

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The New York Times: Bureaucratic Bungling Gave Big Oil Royalty Break

By REUTERS
Published: September 13, 2006
Filed at 3:44 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Big oil companies were able to avoid paying the government billions of dollars in royalties normally due on drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico because of ”bureaucratic bungling” at the U.S. Interior Department, the department’s inspector general told Congress on Wednesday.

The department accidentally left out language in drilling contracts signed with energy companies in 1998 and 1999 that would have ended a waiver on royalties when oil and natural gas prices were at certain high levels, according to Earl Devaney, who looked into how the companies got the special break.

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Aberdeen City Council: Shell’s plans for £25million new HQ recommended for approval

13/09/06

Shell UK Exploration’s proposals for a new £25 million headquarters in Aberdeen are being recommended for approval.

The nine-storey building would have a triangular footprint and be situated close to Shell’s existing Tullos headquarters on a 1.25-hectare site of which a large part is used for car parking.

The site is on the east side of Wellington Road, opposite the junction with Craigshaw Drive. To the north is East Tullos Industrial Estate and to the east is Loirston Country Park, with Nigg Caravan Park immediately to the south. Access is via Wellington Road, with a secondary entrance from Altens Farm Road.

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10News: Shell CEO John Hofmeister Speaks On Controversial Refinery Closure

John Hofmeister Shell

10News: Shell CEO John Hofmeister (above) Speaks On Controversial Refinery Closure

POSTED: 8:55 pm PDT September 13, 2006

Shell workers told 10News there was an alleged plan to drive up gas prices by closing a California refinery.

“They’ve lied and led people to believe there is an inadequate supply of crude oil to run that refinery,” said one Shell worker.

10News showed internal Shell documents talking about how “operations were running well” and Shell was “taking advantage of very high profit margins.” 

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The Wall Street Journal: Nigeria Oil Workers Start Strike

Associated Press
September 13, 2006 5:58 p.m.

LAGOS, Nigeria — Oil workers’ unions launched a three-day strike Wednesday over worsening security in Nigeria’s oil-rich region as Chevron confirmed the death of a subcontractor in the restive southern area.

The country’s two biggest petroleum industry unions had called the action to protest the death of another worker, killed three weeks ago in a shoot-out between government forces and militants amid rising violence in the Niger Delta. It began Wednesday, with both company and union officials saying staff were staying home although disagreeing over the impact on oil exports.

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The Wall Street Journal: Oil News Roundup: September 13, 2006 5:22 p.m.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
September 13, 2006 5:22 p.m.

Crude-oil futures broke a seven-session losing streak, finishing at more than $64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The bounce came despite a government report of a bigger-than-expected build in oil distillates. Here is Wednesday’s roundup of oil and energy news.

* * *
EL NIÑO RETURNS: El Niño conditions have developed and are likely to continue into early 2007, according to U.S. government climate forecasters. The phenomenon, which involves the warmth of waters in the Pacific Ocean, can have an impact on energy demand and crop forecasts, as it affects rainfall in Southeast Asia and winter temperatures in the U.S. and Canada.

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The Wall Street Journal: Russia Ties Probe Of Sakhalin Site To Cost Overrun

By GREG WALTERS
September 13, 2006

MOSCOW — Rising environmental scrutiny of the international oil consortium Sakhalin Energy Ltd. is related to a $10 billion cost increase at the project, which will eat into the Russian government’s share of profits, Minister of Natural Resources Yuri Trutnev said.

The announcement follows recent threats by Russia’s environmental watchdog, Rosprirodnadzor, to shut down crude-oil production at the site and halt work on developing gas production because of environmental infractions.

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The Wall Street Journal: EU Fines Shell, Total, 12 Others In Bitumen Price-Fixing Case

A WALL STREET JOURNAL NEWS ROUNDUP
September 14, 2006; Page A10

BRUSSELS — The European Union’s executive fined 14 companies a total of €266.7 million ($338.5 million) for fixing prices of bitumen, a material used in road construction.

Oil company Royal Dutch Shell PLC was hit with the biggest fine, €108 million, as a repeat offender, while French counterpart Total SA was fined €20.3 million. BP PLC got full immunity for cooperating in the probe, escaping a €30.8 million fine.

“We should not have attended these meetings and we regret our involvement in this case,” said President-Director Rein Willems of Shell Nederland BV. Regulators found eight suppliers and six purchasers participated in a cartel in the Netherlands from 1994 to 2002.

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BBC News: EU fines cartel over bitumen fix (with Shell getting the largest penalty of $137m)

Shell

(The EC said that Shell was the lead player in the bitumen cartel)

THE ARTICLE

BBC News: EU fines cartel over bitumen fix

By Theo Leggett
Europe business reporter

The European Commission has fined some of the region’s top oil firms including Shell and Total for their role in a cartel that fixed the price of bitumen.

In all the companies were fined $338m (£180m; 266.7m euros), with Shell getting the largest penalty of $137m.

The fines were based on the size of the companies, the extent to which they were involved, and whether or not they had previously broken competition law.

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The Herald (Scotland): Shell fined §108m for fixing prices in Dutch road works cartel

RAF CASERT, Brussels September 14 2006
 
ROYAL Dutch Shell was among 14 companies fined §267m (£180m) by the European Union yesterday, following a ruling that they had run a cartel over eight years to fix the price of a key asphalt ingredient for Dutch road works projects.

The oil giant has to pay by far the highest fine – §108m – in the road bitumen investigation. In a statement, the European Commission said the company was an instigator, took the leadership in the cartel and was a repeat offender.

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