“Those poor people are being ‘f** over ‘ by Shell twice. First from the physical damage from the breathing of the acid produced by the flaring of production gases, and now financially.”
UPDATED MONDAY 29 NOVEMBER 2010
Comment from “Outsider” posted on Shell Blog Sun Nov 28th, 2010 at 8:37 am
Donna Getz account of problems following a well test mirror an event in Drenthe in Holland when production from a sour gas (H2S) well was released during a well test during the 1980?s, causing a herd of cows in an adjacent field to drop dead. I dont think it even made the Dutch news after the farmer and local community were reminded of the importance of Shell (NAM) to the local economy. Im sure there are plenty of readers of this site who can provide additional information.
Comment received from a former employee of Shell USA
I read the Getz story. It sounds like the Shell well was producing large amounts of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas that is extremely poisonous. The gas would either be mixed in with natural gas, if the well was a gas well, or in solution in the oil and then liberated as gas along with other gases that come out of solution when oil is produced. The hydrogen sulfide gas it the ‘rotten egg’ gas, but you can only smell in the air very small concentrations, a few 10′ of parts per million. Richer concentrations typically don’t smell. I know, I have had direct experience with H2S at well locations.
If there is not a gas treatment facility at the well that can handle this type of gas then the gas is flared (burned on location) because the H2S is so extremely poisonous. A concentration of 800 parts per million is sufficient to kill immediately.
The flaring of the gas would burn the H2S and produce water and sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas, which is not poisonous. In very high concentrations it can cause suffocation, but so can any other gas other than oxygen.
The sulfur dioxide in turn will and does combine with the natural (water vapor) humidity in the air to form sulfuric acid (H2SO4) or much less likely, sulfurous acid (H2SO3). This acid is in an aerosol form, and will drift in the air with the wind. It is very hazardous because sulfuric acid is so extremely corrosive.
What this woman describes is classic damage resulting from the flaring of large volumes of H2S and the formation of high concentrations of sulfuric acid in the air in aerosol form. A chemical analysis of the damage to the truck, etc., will nail this down without difficulty because it will form iron sulfide. A test of the gas produced at the well would do the trick as well, but I am sure that Shell has detailed chemical analyses of that gas.
Those people were injured because Shell did not properly evacuate the surrounding area before flaring of that gas. Their lungs were damaged by acid. However, had Shell not flared the gas a host of folks would have been killed from the release of high concentrations of H2S.
Never-the-less, what Shell did constituted knowing, and deliberate malicious negligence, and perhaps even criminal negligence given that people were severely injured. That would be a matter of Canadian Federal and Provincial law.
Those people need good attorneys. And they need to seriously take their previous attorney to task. Their former attorney should have gotten an analysis of the gas from Shell long ago. I wonder who that ‘pleader’ was working for, his paying clients or Shell. It sounds like he threw the case.
Those poor people are being ‘f** over ‘ by Shell twice. First from the physical damage from the breathing of the acid produced by the flaring of production gases, and now financially.
Someone needs to check their attorney’s list of clients and his financial records. Follow the money. That attorney should be able to account for every dime of income. No mysterious deposits should be found anywhere. Shell seems to have bought off everyone else involved in this case, it would not surprise me if Shell had not bought off their attorney as well.
Comment posted by “sandy beach” 2010/11/28 at 11:14 pm
I have been working for Shell for 5 years, in Canada. As I read this I realized that 6 years ago, this would have meant that Shell in Canada was Shell Canada, a company that was partly owned, but not controlled, by Royal Dutch Shell. We used to pride ourselves on not being part of that Shell that has a position in Nigeria. Reading this Im so saddened and embarrassed to be part of a company that did this in my own country. They need a lawyer a la Erin Brokovitch, I would bet that they arent the only people who have suffered the ill effects of Shells position (now and then) in NE British Columbia.
Comment and information posted by “sandy beach” on Nov 28th, 2010 at 11:30 pm
One thing John I have dug into this a bit more it looks like Talisman Energy was involved as well (see link). Is it really fair to imply 100% of the blame on Shell? I realize that this is a great reason for companies to invest as Joint Ventures blame gets watered down, and I also realize that you arent reporters per-se, so I should read your website with a grain of salt.
Reply to “Sandy Beach” by John Donovan. Thanks for the information you have dug out. We have not made any comment on the matter and made it clear in the headline the nature of the comments by Donna Getz – “allegations”. I note that Shell was indeed represented on the Oil & Gas Advisory Committee. This confirms that particular allegation made by Donna. Her main allegations are, as you correctly say, directed at Shell. Perhaps Donna will kindly provide more information to deal with your point, including any involvement by Talisman Energy? When we do carry out an investigation, supporting evidence from independent reputable sources is provided, as is the case (in abundance) with “Royal Dutch Shell Nazi Secrets”.
Further comments received from a former employee of Shell USA
I am no a biophysicist by any means, but it is possible that sulfur dioxide (SO2) when breathed in sufficient quantities could actually form sulfuric acid in the lungs of the critter or person breathing the gas. Lungs are very humid places.
The damage she describes to the vegetation and the corrosion to the side of their truck indicates highly a corrosive aerosol that drifted with the wind.
It could be that their was not only some acid in the air in aerosol form, but that it also formed in their lungs as they breathed in SO2.
I will bet there have been medical studies of the effects of breathing SO2 and sulfuric acid aerosols and that the results of those studies are in the medical journals. Shell obviously knows what happened at that well, but with a little work it should be possible to figure that out without information from Shell.
By the way, there should be production records on file with the public agencies that will give information about the well or wells in question and they types of gas, etc., that are being produced, and how much is being produced. That information should be a matter of public record.
If Donna Getz would provide more details of the situation around the well or wells that she is alluding to I could probably give her some better insight into what probably happened and what caused her health problems. The most likely cause is the flaring of large amounts of H2S, but there are also some other possible causes, less likely to be sure, but there are other possibilities. Various types of concentrated acids, and even concentrated ammonia are used in the completion and testing process of many wells, and it could be these may have also contributed to the problems.
Working around oil and gas wells is dangerous business often times, and you need to know what you are doing to avoid problems. Many people are killed in oil field accidents and many by H2S gas.
Perhaps you could post a solicitation for information from any employees of Shell Canada that may know something of this event. These poor people need help and it won’t hurt Shell in the least to provide compensation for their injuries and losses. Shell is treating these folks like they do the powerless, nameless and faceless, and ‘no account natives’ of Nigeria, i.e., with complete and utter contempt.
In any event, I would be willing to help if it is possible. I can at least give her information that she can use to track down the facts behind the incident.
Comment by Donna Getz
I have all the papers relating to this including the reports from the well. Talisman Energy was in on running us out of Tumbler Ridge but they had nothing to do with the well Shell was drilling, they were going to drill two wells close to us so they had to get us out of the way.
Further comment received from a former employee of Shell USA
There are a clearly a host of Shell employees from all over the world that read what you publish. You are having an impact, my friend. Congratulations! Maybe someone at Shell Canada will come forth with some information about the Getz situation. Hope so.
By the way, that is quite the new banner you have. I am certain it has not gone unnoticed by Shell. Nor have the comments gone unnoticed.
I noticed also that comment about Talisman being a ‘non-operating’ partner of Shell’s on that particular well that Donna Gertz mentioned. As a non-operating partner they are simply investors in the project. Shell was operating and if Canadian law is anything like US law, and I am certain it is, then as the operator they are responsible for safe operations. Talisman would simply share in the financial costs of misconduct. It would be Shell and Shell personnel that could be held liable for negligence, even criminal negligence, for failing to operate safely.