By John Donovan
We have printed below our recent correspondence with Shell regarding the resignation of John Stubbs. As can be seen, the information was supplied by Shell insiders.
EMAIL FROM JOHN DONOVAN TO ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC COMPANY SECRETARY MICHIEL BRANDJES: 19 September 2007
From: John Donovan [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: woensdag 19 september 2007 10:09
To: Brandjes, Michiel CM RDS-LC
Cc: van der Veer, Jeroen J RDS-CEJV; Ollila, Jorma RDS-RDS/CH; Brinded, Malcolm A RDS-ECMB; Ruddock, Keith KA SI-LSEP; Wiseman, Richard RM SI-LMAPF
Subject: Shell Project Management Club in disintegration
Dear Mr Brandjes
I have sent this email for your kind attention having received “Out of Office” Auto Replies from Mr Ruddock and Mr Wiseman.
Printed below is a draft article. As per normal we are supplying this in advance so that Shell has the opportunity to correct any factual inaccuracies and to supply any comment for unedited publication as part of the article. Any factual inaccuracies identified by Shell will be deleted.
Please let us know in particular if any names should not be included. We also draw your attention to the comment about pending redundancies in Shell EP and NAM.
In the absence of any response today I will assume that you wish the standard comment below to be published with the article:
“The lack of a rebuttal from, or comment by, Shell does not in any way constitute an acceptance on Shell’s part of the accuracy of any of the points made by you, whether now or in the future, and whether on this or on any other matter, and we continue to reserve our position accordingly in respect of those matters.”
However, if you need more time to check into this matter with the intention of supplying a response to the issues covered in the article, you only have to ask.
ARTICLE HEADLINE: Shell Project Management Club in disintegration.
Dear Mr Van der Veer
I understand that the highly respected and experienced project manager, John Stubbs, resigned after falling out with the Executive Director of Shell EP, Malcolm Brinded, who has never himself actually delivered a frontier project.
According to our information the Kashagan “Cash All Gone” project was the catalyst for his resignation.
I have set out below the information accumulated from a number of insider sources.
The story as we have it…
John Stubbs was rewarded for his good work in Bonga with promotion into the top league of Shell, being made a member of the SEG – “Senior Executive Group”, or alternatively, in view of the prodigious extinction rate of the species, “Seriously Endangered Genre”.
He was dispatched by Brinded to sort out the Kashagan mess which we understand is probably an impossible task. As you will be aware, Shell has an embarrassing past history with the project. In 1997 Agip (Eni), Statoil, Mobil, Shell, Total, BP and BG were the consortium members. The project was led by Shell in the exploration phase. After serious delays were encountered, Shell’s partners nicknamed Kashagan “Cash All Gone” and eventually completely lost patience with Shell. A new field operator was chosen: Eni. Unfortunately the project has turned out to be too big for an incompetent ENI with matters made even more perilous due to demands by the Kazakhstan government, copying Putin’s strong arm example in renegotiation tactics of PSA’s.
Stubbs was confronted by an over-budget out-of-control shambles and advised Brinded that he did not want the assignment. Brinded bluntly told him to take it or leave. Stubbs resigned. The bullying tactics had backfired and Shell lost another of its most experienced and talented project managers. We understand that as with the Bill Campbell crisis, also involving Malcolm Brinded, an attempt has been made to pacify Stubbs in the hope he will withdraw his resignation.
Stubbs will be joining the growing number of thoroughly disillusioned and under-appreciated members of frontier Shell Project Management who have recently left Shell or retired, or moved into more comfortable non career threatening jobs.
Without experienced inspirational leaders such as Stubbs, David Greer, Mike Thomas, Chuck Enze, Bill Luyties, Bourgeois, Goudsmit, Erlings, Bierema, etc, etc, who does Shell have left to deliver your much trumpeted elephant projects?
We are told that none were properly appreciated or valued at Shell despite all the hot air about Shell Project Academy. People of such high calibre are of course eagerly sought after by your competitors. They must be delighted that the incompetence and ego of Brinded is inflicting huge damage on the morale of his senior managers, driving many to despair and departure.
With the haemorrhaging of Project Management leadership of such high quality, Shell’s reserves will remain in the ground, worthless, like senior management who our sources claim, have failed to see the rot within its own ranks.
How is Shell going to deliver elephant projects without any elephant riders?
Incidentally, we also hear from high level sources that several hundred redundancies are in the pipeline for EP and NAM.
Finally, the following are extracts from comments received from a Shell insider in relation to the Reuters article revealing the departure of John Stubbs.
I read your entry on the resignation of John Stubbs (Tue Sep 4, 2007 7:33 PM BST By Tom Bergin) and completely agree with some of the sentiments expressed in that article. No company can afford to lose so much talent in such a relatively short period. It is clear that many of the good hands are leaving (and some are asked to leave because Brinded never could stand people who might have a mind of their own and refuse to follow his ‘aspirational’ target setting). The headhunters are having a field day!!
I worry who will now be the role models of our younger staff? Certainly not Brinded or Cook in their gilded cages. And v.d.Veer used to be a first class role model: clever, pragmatic, decent. But he has been ‘rescuing’ RDS for so long now, even he has succumbed to spinstories rather than fixing the problem.
REPLY FROM MICHIEL BRANDJES
Sent: 19 September 2007 16:20
To: [email protected]
Subject: RE: Shell Project Management Club in disintegration
Dear Mr. Donovan,
I am sure that Mr Ruddock or Mr Wiseman will respond in due course and as appropriate if they deem this to be in the interest of Shell.
Company Secretary and General Counsel Corporate
Royal Dutch Shell plc
Registered office: Shell Centre London SE1 7NA UK
Place of registration and number: England 4366849
Correspondence address: PO Box 162, 2501 AN The Hague,
REPLY FROM JOHN DONOVAN 19 SEPT 2007: 16.49
Dear Mr. Brandjes
Thank you for your response. We are naturally reluctant to publish leaked insider information concerning extensive redundancies in EP and NAM without Shell having the opportunity to comment. We do not wish to cause concern to employees if the information is inaccurate. On the other hand, we would like to publish ASAP if it is true. Thus far our sources have an excellent record. The Reuters news report today about delays in the completion of SAK2 pipeline and the consequential delays in the export of crude oil confirm insider information published on our website long ago. We will hold off until close of business tomorrow, but we may pass the information to a news organisation so that they can investigate.