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Shell gripe with The Wall Street Journal over royaldutchshellplc.com website?

A few minutes ago The Wall Street Journal published a corrected article originally published on July 17 under the headline: “Shell Email Leak Says US Convent Refinery Income Dismal -Blog”.

The Royal Dutch Shell Plc company website was identified as Royaldutchshellplc.com – the precise dotcom domain name for the unified company. Since Shell was unsuccessful in proceedings to seize the domain name from its owner and well-known Shell critic, 92 year old Alfred Donovan, this was a humiliating error for Shell.  It therefore seems reasonable to speculate that Shell raised the matter with The Wall Street Journal resulting in the correction of the embarrassing mistake.

If Shell was behind the correction, the intervention has backfired since the role of the royaldutchshellplc.com blog in the publication of an important leaked Shell internal email has been highlighted again with the publication of the corrected article.

Shell may wish to demand that the earlier Wall Street Journal article “Shell To Restructure, Merge Three Units” is corrected and republished on the same grounds.

THE CORRECTED ARTICLE

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

CORRECT(7/17): Shell Email Leak:Convent Refinery Income Dismal

Tuesday, July 21, 2009, 6.53 A.M. ET

(“Shell Email Leak Says US Convent Refinery Income Dismal -Blog,” at 0647 GMT on July 17, misidentifies the Web site linked at the bottom of the article. The correct version follows:)

LONDON (Dow Jones)–Income performance at Motiva Enterprises LLC’s Convent refinery near Baton Rouge in Louisiana has been dismal since July 2008 and the company needs to cut costs to return to profitability, according to an internal email from part-owner Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB) which was leaked to a blog critical of the company.

“We are getting our costs in line at Convent in order to become competitive in a tough business environment,” the email sent to Motiva staff by manager David Brignac said. “We are considering reductions in operator positions, but no final decisions have been made on operator staffing levels,” he writes in the email posted Friday on royaldutchshellplc.com.

Brignac denied that the company already has plans for a second round of layoffs at the refinery but says it is impossible to predict the future and, “whenever we as a business entity are not generating income, we are not in control of our own destiny.”

Some analysts expect Shell’s refining business to have made a loss in the second quarter because of low profit margins, weak demand and high stocks of transport fuels. New Chief Executive Peter Voser plans a major restructuring of the company, trimming back some unprofitable units. Earlier this month the company said it is considering selling or closing its 130,000 barrel a day refinery in Quebec, Canada.

Motiva is a joint venture between Shell and a subsidiary of state-owned Saudi Aramco. It operates nearly 7,700 gasoline stations, three refineries with combined capacity of 740,000 barrels per day and oil storage facilities.

Blog Web site: http://www.royaldutchshellplc.com

-By James Herron, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 (0)20 7842 9317; james.herron@dowjones.com

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