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A close call for Shell on North Sea platform

On 11 May 2010, just weeks after the Gulf of Mexico disaster, Shell had a very narrow escape on the NAM-L13-FE North Sea platform that could have killed many people. There were 71 persons present at the time of the incident. Fortunately, none were injured. There was however significant damage to the platform.

Article by John Donovan including current related email correspondence with Royal Dutch Shell Plc

On 20 April 2010 an explosion and fire took place on the BP-licensed Transocean drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, located in the Gulf of Mexico. As we all know, the fall out from the explosion has been earthshaking in its ramifications in many directions.

On 27 June 2010, the Guardian published a related article “Shell: deep-water oil drilling will go on” featuring an interview with Peter Voser, the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell Plc. It contained this boast attributed to Mr Voser:

We would not have drilled the well in the same way. We have got other safety procedures across the globe. But I think for some companies there will be some learning from this as well…

In other words, Shell has nothing to learn from the BP disaster.

On 2 July we published an article”Voser claims Shell has nothing to learn from the BP disaster: Is this really true?“and this was followed the next day with an article “Expert educates Shell CEO Voser on oil rig blowouts”authored by the retired HSE Group Auditor of Shell International, Mr Bill Campbell.

Voser claimed that blow-outs like the Macondo well could not happen in Shell. But they have. On 11 May 2010, just weeks after the Gulf of Mexico disaster, Shell had a very narrow escape on the NAM-L13-FE North Sea platform that could have killed many people.  The platform located about 50 kilometers west of Den Helder produces natural gas. Next to the platform was a mobile platform, the “Sea Fox 4”, carrying out the maintenance work.

During maintenance work to an existing well a number of pipes, which at that time were being lowered into a well, were blown out. The pipes subsequently fell on the deck of the platform. The safety valves in the well saved the day and ensured that there was no leakage of gas from the existing well.

There were 71 persons present at the time of the incident. Fortunately, none were injured. There was however significant damage to the platform.   The maintenance work and production of gas was shut down.

Part of a tubing string being blown out of a hole is something that should never happen. A most serious breach of safety had taken place and it was deliberately underplayed.

The facts of the incident which did not make news headlines completely undermine the claims made by Peter Voser.

RELATED SELF-EXPLANATORY CORRESPONDENCE WITH ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC CHIEF ETHICS & COMPLIANCE OFFICER, RICHARD WISEMAN

From: John Donovan [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: 23 July 2010 16:46
To: Wiseman, Richard M RDS-LSX
Subject: A close call for Shell on North Sea platform

Dear Mr Wiseman

Printed below is a self-explanatory draft article.

Please feel free to point out any inaccuracy for removal.

Please feel free to supply comment for unedited publication with the article.

I look forward to receiving a response next week.

Have a good weekend.

Regards
John Donovan

REPLY FROM RICHARD WISEMAN

From: [email protected]
Date: 26 July 2010 18:08:24 GMT+01:00
To: [email protected]
Subject: RE: A close call for Shell on North Sea platform

Dear Mr Donovan

I will not be responding to the contents of your email, except to remind you, as ever, that nothing should be inferred from this lack of response.

Regards
Richard Wiseman

Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer
Royal Dutch Shell plc
Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA

Registered in England and Wales number 4366849
Registered Office:  Shell Centre, London, SE1
Headquarters: Carel van Bylandtlaan 30, 2596 HR
The Hague, The Netherlands

Email: [email protected]
Internet: http://www.shell.com

RESPONSE FROM JOHN DONOVAN

From: John Donovan <[email protected]>
Date: 27 July 2010 12:35:54 GMT+01:00
To: [email protected]
Subject: Re: A close call for Shell on North Sea platform

Dear Mr Wiseman

Thank you for your response.

That you have seen the article and had the opportunity to comment is sufficient.

Regards

John Donovan

EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE ENDS

THE DRAFT ARTICLE WAS AS PUBLISHED ABOVE

Photo shown above is of the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM) offshore gas-production platform L15, situated in the North Sea.

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