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Royal Dutch Shell and Iran Oil

By John Donovan: 12 January 2012

Thefront page lead story published by the Financial Times newspaper today reports that European refiners have begun to sever links with Iran ahead of an EU meeting, which could impose a full oil embargo on the Iranian regime.

(A version of the article is also published on ft.com)

Iran is the world’s third-largest oil exporter.

Tensions and oil prices are heightened by the regimes threat to close the Strait of Hormuz.

The article reports that according to Argus Media, Royal Dutch Shell is the biggest buyer of Iranian crude.

As could be expected, Shell has been extremely sensitive about purchasing oil from the fanatical Iranian regime supplying road side bombs, which have maimed and killed many US and British soldiers, but has continued to do so. With Shell, money wins out over mere moral considerations.

On 28 October 2010, Shell CFO Simon Henry came clean after press reports on the subject and admitted that Shell has continued to trade with Iran:

“Simon Henry, Shell’s top financial official, said his company was still taking delivery of Iranian crude oil under the terms of its existing contracts with the Islamic republic.” (extract from UPI article)

The following month, November 2010, Reuters published an article which stated:

“Companies are still finding ways to buy Iranian oil. Royal Dutch Shell and some Italian and Spanish refiners buy Iranian barrels with finance coming from Chinese and Italian banks…”

Shell has in fact continued to buy oil from the Iranian regime for many years and and because of the obvious sensitivity, has on occasion used subterfuge to disguise shipping movements.

I discovered just how sensitive the issue is after sending an email in March 2007 to Bill O’Reilly at Fox News, under the innocuous subject heading “Shell’s treachery in Iran“.

As a result of making an application to Shell under the Data Protection Act, we discovered from Shell internal communications the company was compelled to supply, that my email had sent Shell into a panic on both sides of the Atlantic. This was out of concern that if the story was taken up by Fox News, it could result in a US boycott of Shell gasoline.

The internal emails also revealed anxiety over information being leaked to us:

“They are a continued source of leaks from inside Shell – if you read their on line blog you will see a lot of insider material”.

A media statement was drafted on a contingency basis.

As can be seen from the covering message, it contained the usual spin and was founded on deception:

“Greetings all – The lawyers are happy with the following response statement no changes from the draft I sent you yesterday). As discussed with xxxxxxx, we have phrased this as coming from Shell in the US, and have aimed to distance you as much as possible from what is essentially a dispute originating in the UK. Let’s hope there is no follow up and we don’t have to use anything.”

The Shell internal emails focused on our Iran initiative with Fox News, but also mentioned a surge in our activities relating to Sakhalin 2 and Shell North Sea “TFA” safety culture, as exposed by Bill Campbell, the former Group HSE Auditor of Shell International.

That same month, Shell set up an aggressive team to combat our activities. This was followed by an attempt to close down this website and the setting up of a related global spying operation targeting my family and all Shell employees, in conjunction with a US cyber intelligence unit partly staffed and funded by the FBI.

All in response to an entirely non commercial website publishing the truth about the dark side of Royal Dutch Shell, including its relationship with the Iranian regime.

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