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Posts from ‘May, 2013’

A taxing time for Shell

Screen Shot 2013-01-11 at 20.09.51By John Donovan

After Shell’s Arctic ambitions hit the rocks at the end of December 2012, Shell initially conceded that the ill-fated Kulluk drilling rig had left port under tow to avoid taxes. Shell then backtracked. Shell chief executive Peter Voser rejected accusations that tax issues were a factor in the move. Now we have confirmation from Sean Churchfield, Shell’s operations manager in Alaska, that the first admission was correct. The Kulluk left port in order to avoid “millions” in annual state taxes. That admission has damaged the credibility and reputation of Shell and Peter Voser, who is conveniently taking early retirement, as did the original fall guy, Lawrence of Alaska. Shell reserved its position in respect of an analysis by retired Shell International Group HSE Auditor, Bill Campbell, of the fall out from the Arctic shambles, that we published on this website. See below: “Shell Misadventures in the Arctic Region in Alaskan waters”

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Nigerian way of life under threat from pollution

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Oil pollution is a continuing problem in the Niger Delta, with thousands of oil spills polluting farmland as well as lakes and rivers.

The damage to natural resources has forced many communities to relocate, in order to find the means to make a living.

But what was life like before the multi-national oil companies moved in?

Nigeria correspondent Will Ross reports from the Niger Delta.

SOURCE ARTICLE WITH VIDEO

Shell under the skin, 10 years after crisis

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LONDON | Wed May 29, 2013 7:31pm EDT

(Reuters) – A decade ago, Royal Dutch/Shell’s (RDSa.L) boss was fighting to close the gap between the truth about his company’s oil and gas reserves and the much larger figure in its accounts.

He lost the fight, and his job. Scandal engulfed one of the world’s biggest companies, exposing years of neglect.

Fast forward to May 2013, and the surprise news that chief executive Peter Voser will retire next year caused barely a ripple. Shell has recovered shareholder confidence. But while the risks may all be in the open now, they remain big.

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An Apology

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 06.47.44By John Donovan

Many of our visitors will have encountered problems accessing this website in recent days.

Since Saturday night the site has once again been under exceptional traffic loads as a result of further denial of service attacks by an unknown party – and has repeatedly been forced offline. 

As a consequence, we are currently upgrading the server and at the same time also adding new features.

Please bear with us while this work is underway.

The Shell Blog is not working at the moment and postings made yesterday, including a posting by an irate “uscitizen” and my unreserved apology to him for wrongly accusing him of making postings using multiple aliases, are not shown, but will be republished in full, as soon as the Shell Blog and the website is fully functional.

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Shell To Start Drilling In Benin, Gabon For First Time

28 May 2013

VENTURES AFRICA – Oil and gas giant, Royal Dutch Shell (Shell), is set to prepare a newly-repaired oilrig to start drilling for the first time off the coast of Benin and Gabon, Dow Jones Newswires reported late on Monday.

According to the newswire, the company has also targeted South Africa’s northwestern coast to start drilling in 2014.

It is understood this is part of Shell’s plan to reappear in West Africa and other parts of Africa after its initial plan to establish a base in the East African coast was botched.

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Discovery ongoing in discrimination suit against Motiva

FROM THE SOUTHEAST TEXAS RECORD

By David Yates:

With a trial slated for September, discovery is still ongoing in litigation brought against Motiva Enterprises, which alleges the company discriminated against a black Port Arthur woman by allowing a white male certain privileges. EDTX-seal

As previously reported, Carolyn Warwick filed a lawsuit July 10 in Jefferson County District Court against Motiva Enterprises.

Court records show that a certificate of written discovery was filed on April 2, serving upon all counsel Motiva’s first set of interrogatories and first request for production of documents.

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Shell Admits Kulluk Rig was Moved to Avoid Taxes

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By Charles Kennedy | Mon, 27 May 2013 21:47

Screen Shot 2012-12-07 at 01.26.25On 7th December 2012 Shell decided to move the Kulluk floating drill platform from its berth in Dutch Harbour, south to a Seattle shipyard where it would receive major repairs and general maintenance during the off-season. Shell claimed that they had assessed the possibility of making the repairs in Alaska, but it was deemed that a larger shipyard was needed.

The Kulluk, under tow from the Aiviq, departed Dutch Harbour on 21st December. On 27th December the main towing gear failed, just as an Arctic storm approached and the seas began to pick up. Repeated attempts to connect the Kulluk to a number of different vessels that had come to help, all failed, and the rig finally drifted off and ran aground on New Year’s Eve.

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Shell Admits Real Reason Coast Guard Had To Rescue Its Arctic Drilling Rig: Failed Tax Avoidance Scheme

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Screen Shot 2012-12-07 at 01.26.25By Ryan Koronowski on May 28, 2013 at 6:17 pm

The main reason an offshore oil rig ran aground off the coast of Alaska late last year was because oil company Royal Dutch Shell was trying to depart state waters to avoid paying millions in taxes.

Sean Churchfield, operations manager for Royal Dutch Shell in Alaska, testified to the Coast Guard over the weekend that the Kulluk, an Arctic offshore drilling rig, left Dutch Harbor in December “driven by the economic factors.” When the Coast Guard’s legal advisor Lt. Cmdr. Brian McNamara asked why leaving by the end of the year was such a concern, Churchfield said:

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Shell contractor testifies tow setup for Kulluk was modified

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By LISA DEMER — [email protected]: Published May 28, 2013

An employee for a Shell contractor testified Tuesday that a heavy chain — which investigators indicated can be used to absorb the force of rough weather — was eliminated from the towing setup for Shell’s drilling rig, the Kulluk, because of concerns about handling the gear.

William Hebert works for Delmar, a Louisiana offshore oil field services company, and was sent to Alaska to serve as “rig move coordinator” for the Kulluk. He testified on Day 7 of a Coast Guard hearing investigating the Kulluk’s Dec. 31 grounding in a fierce Gulf of Alaska storm.

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Oil Probe That EU Says Mirrors Libor May Reveal Huge Damage

Oil-price manipulation may have wrought “huge” damage to consumers, the European Union’s antitrust chief said today, as he drew comparisons with EU investigations into rigging of bank rates including Libor.

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EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said, “If de facto the manipulation is confirmed, indeed, huge damages for consumers and users would have been originated by this.” Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

By Stephanie Bodoni May 28, 2013

Oil-price manipulation may have wrought “huge” damage to consumers, the European Union’s antitrust chief said today, as he drew comparisons with EU investigations into rigging of bank rates including Libor.

While it’s too soon to draw conclusions from the May 14 raids on Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), BP Plc (BP/), Statoil ASA (STL) and Platts, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said both sets of probe target price manipulation through a reporting system.

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BP & Shell Fixed North Sea Oil Prices for a Decade, Trader Says

Ship towing Kulluk had slime in fuel

Shell says to invest $30 billion in Australia over five years

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BRISBANE | Mon May 27, 2013 3:19am BST

(Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell plans to invest $30 billion in Australia over the next five years, the firm’s outgoing chief executive Peter Voser said in a speech at an industry conference on Monday.

Voser, who built the oil company into a leader in liquefied natural gas, announced his retirement earlier this month.

Shell has invested in gas projects in Australia and its Arrow LNG project is one of four gas export plants that was planned for Queensland’s Curtis Island, but the project is widely expected to be abandoned in favour of selling its gas resources to rival projects.

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Jeroen van der Veer: Hypocrite Supreme

Screen Shot 2013-05-18 at 23.12.50Mr Van der Veer (shown right) is no fan of this website. In January 2008, as was reported in The Times, we published a leaked email from him in which he forecast that world demand for oil and gas would outstrip supply within 7 years. Events has shown that he was talking nonsense on that occasion as well.

By John Donovan

The fuelfix headline encapsulated the theme of the speech given last Thursday by former Royal Dutch Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer at the KPMG Global Energy Conference in Houston:

Former Shell CEO: Safety must come first. And second. And third.

This qualifies as sheer hypocrisy on his part.

On his watch, Shell had an absolutely atrocious safety track record for which he was publicly criticised.

(Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer “hurt” by criticism: 3 Sept 2007)

On his watch, even lifeboats serving Shell North Sea platforms were found to be unseaworthy.

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Concerns over Kulluk tax bill factored into Shell’s winter Gulf of Alaska crossing

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Suzanna Caldwell: May 25, 2013

Millions of dollars in potential taxes were a primary reason Royal Dutch Shell decided to move the Arctic-ready conical drilling unit Kulluk from Dutch Harbor before the end of the year, according to the company’s Alaska operations manager.

The taxes were part of a hierarchy of issues the Shell Alaska venture considered before moving the Kulluk — the centerpiece of Shell’s $4-billion-plus Arctic drilling program — Sean Churchfield, Shell’s Alaska operations manager, told a US Coast Guard marine casualty investigation Saturday.

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The Biggest Criminal Enterprise in History

Article recommended by Esther Kiobel

The Biggest Criminal Enterprise in History

Terracide and the Terrarists Destroying the Planet for Record Profits

by Tom Engelhardt Call it irony, if you will, or call it a nightmare, but Big Oil evidently has no qualms about making its next set of profits directly off melting the planet. We have a word for the conscious slaughter of a racial or ethnic group: genocide.  And one for the conscious destruction of aspects of the environment: ecocide.  But we don’t have a word for the conscious act of destroying the planet we live on, the world as humanity had known it until, historically speaking, late last night.  A possibility might be “terracide” from the Latin word for earth.  It has the right ring, given its similarity to the commonplace danger word of our era: terrorist.The truth is, whatever we call them, it’s time to talk bluntly about the terrarists of our world.  Yes, I know, 9/11 was horrific.  Almost 3,000 dead, massive towers down, apocalyptic scenes.  And yes, when it comes to terror attacks, the Boston Marathon bombings weren’t pretty either.  But in both cases, those who committed the acts paid for or will pay for their crimes.In the case of the terrarists — and here I’m referring in particular to the men who run what may be the most profitable corporations on the planet, giant energy companies like ExxonMobilChevronConocoPhillipsBP, and Shell — you’re the one who’s going to pay, especially your children and grandchildren. You can take one thing for granted: not a single terrarist will ever go to jail, and yet they certainly knew what they were doing. FULL ARTICLE

Ship towing drilling rig had ‘slime’ in fuel, main engineer says

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Published: May 24, 2013 at 3:58 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, May 24 (UPI) — A U.S. Coast Guard panel investigating the grounding of a drilling rig in Alaska heard testimony from an engineer who blamed a tow ship’s diesel fuel supply.

The inquiry concerns the towing of the drilling rig Kulluk, owned by Royal Dutch Shell, which ran aground Dec. 31, 2012, when the 365-foot towing ship Aiviq experienced an engine failure, the (Anchorage, Alaska) Daily News reported Friday.

Carl Broekhuis, the ship’s main engineer, said Thursday, the fourth day of an anticipated 10-day hearing, the ship’s four engines failed because of a problem with the fuel that materialized in the form of “slime.”

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As Shell faces price-rig probe, its UK boss Ed Daniels backs an overhaul

Shell UK chairman Ed Daniels was away on business when investigators from the European Commission came calling at his London office this month over sensational allegations of price-rigging in the oil market. ‘But I heard about it pretty quickly,’ he says wryly. Unsurprisingly, it is not a subject he is eager to discuss:

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Targeted: Ed Daniels said Shell is co-operating with an EC investigation

By Helen Loveless: PUBLISHED: 22:02, 25 May 2013 | UPDATED: 22:02, 25 May 2013

Shell UK chairman Ed Daniels was away on business when investigators from the European Commission came calling at his London office this month over sensational allegations of price-rigging in the oil market.

‘But I heard about it pretty quickly,’ he says wryly.

Unsurprisingly, it is not a subject he is eager to discuss: ‘We are fully co-operating with the investigation with the EC. We will continue to co-operate. More than that I can’t say.’

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Shell says Kulluk left Dutch Harbor to avoid taxes

Screen Shot 2012-12-07 at 01.26.25A Royal Dutch Shell official testified Saturday that tax avoidance was the main reason for having the Kulluk oil drilling rig leave Dutch Harbor in December — 10 days before its grounding off a remote Alaska island.

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Saturday May 25, 2013

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Royal Dutch Shell official testified Saturday that tax avoidance was the main reason for having the Kulluk oil drilling rig leave Dutch Harbor in December — 10 days before its grounding off a remote Alaska island.

“Our preference for the timing was to be gone before the end of the year, driven by the economic factors,” Sean Churchfield, operations manager for Royal Dutch Shell in Alaska, told a Coast Guard panel that’s investigating the incident.

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First online publication of oil price fixing US lawsuit against Shell, BP & Statoil

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 01.06.41This action arises from Defendants’ unlawful combination, agreement and conspiracy to fix and restrain trade in, and intentional manipulation of North Sea Brent Crude Oil (“Brent Crude oil”) and the prices of Brent Crude oil futures contracts…: Defendants deliberately reported inaccurate, misleading and false information regarding Brent Crude oil prices to Platts…

By John Donovan

You may have seen reference on this website to the class action lawsuit launched in the USA by Prime International Trading, Ltd against Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Statoil, for alleged oil price-fixing.

We are the first to provide free access to the relevant CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT – ALL 53 pages

Searchable version can be supplied by email on request to [email protected]

The proceedings were issued on 22 May 2013.

Some extracts:

1. This action arises from Defendants’ unlawful combination, agreement and conspiracy to fix and restrain trade in, and intentional manipulation of North Sea Brent Crude Oil (“Brent Crude oil”) and the prices of Brent Crude oil futures contracts traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange (“NYMEX”) and the Intercontinental Exchange (“‘ICE”) during the period of at least 2002 through the present (the “Class Period”), in violation of the Commodity Exchange Act….2. Defendants deliberately reported inaccurate, misleading and false information regarding Brent Crude oil prices to Platts, a unit of McGraw Hill Financial Inc.,and the leading global provider of spot and contract pricing for the physical and financially settled derivatives Brent Crude oil markets. Platts’ Brent Crude oil prices are used to price and settle physical floating Brent Crude oil deals under long-term contracts on a physical (spot) basis, and to settle Brent Crude oil derivatives contracts, including NYMEX and ICE Brent Crude oil futures contracts. False reporting of Brent Crude oil prices to Platts thereby undermines the entire ‘pricing structure for the Brent Crude oil market.

6. On May 17,2013, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office announced that it was “urgently reviewing” the European Commission’s allegations of price-fixing in the oil markets and determining whether to accept the case for “criminal investigation.” That same day, the United States Senate called for the U.S. Department of Justice to join the European Commission investigation.

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Ruthless and bad behaviour at the top of Royal Dutch Shell

Screen Shot 2013-01-13 at 00.04.46The foot soldiers, of whom I was one in Shell, often took their leads from what they saw as ruthless and bad behaviour at the top – and, unsurprisingly, sometimes behaved badly themselves.

(Disgraced Shell Chairman Sir Philip Watts shown right)

Article by retired Royal Dutch Shell executive Paddy Briggs.

I received my first monthly pay check from a Shell company back in October 1964. It was for £200 and I was probably a bit overpaid in truth. I started work at seventeen so the not infrequent visits to pubs and wine bars with my new colleagues during those first couple of months before my 18th Birthday were on reflection a bit dodgy. Paddy 1963067The colleagues paid of course understanding that my lowly status as a dogsbody was matched by an appropriately low wage. They were jolly times and though everyone seemed to play hard, especially at long liquid lunches, they worked together quite effectively as well. The team that played together stayed together – and there was a high level of integrity around. At no point during my “induction” months did anyone read out rules to me – and if you had used the term “Mission Statement” people would have thought that you were a Jehovah’s Witness. The rules that mattered were mostly informal – the dress code was fairly tight – dark suits and ties de rigueur.  But the idea that you needed to be told what to do with some “code of behaviour” booklet would not have occurred. And if you were uncertain someone would put you right – the informal organisation was far more important than the formal.

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Corrib gas field in Ireland, the scandalous project

The Corrib gas field in Ireland has become almost three times more expensive than planned and evoked local hatred against the company. The scandalous project is forgotten in Norway, however. Statoil is aware that the Corrib project has been controversial, but point out that Shell is operator for the development.

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ARTICLES ABOUT STATOIL, SHELL & THE CORRIB GAS PROJECT, PUBLISHED TODAY IN NORWAY

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1st ARTICLE

Statoil in Ireland money quagmire

The Corrib gas field in Ireland has become almost three times more expensive than planned and evoked local hatred against the company. The scandalous project is forgotten in Norway, however.

Erlend Skarsaune: Publisert: Oppdatert:

Statoil was part of a rare gas discovery off the northwestern coast of Ireland in 1996. With its 36.5 percent share in Corrib, the company saw a green future in Ireland. The plan was to start gas production in 2003. It did not work. The scandalous Corrib project disappeared from the annual reports after Statoil referred to Ireland as a focus area in the early 2000’s.

Read the response from Statoil and Shell here:

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BP, Shell, Statoil Face U.S. Lawsuit After EU Oil Price Probe

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By Brian Swint; May 24, 2013

The three oil producers under investigation by the European Commission for manipulating oil prices are being sued in a class-action lawsuit in the U.S.

BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) and Statoil ASA (STL) “deliberately reported inaccurate, misleading and false information regarding Brent crude oil prices to Platts,” Prime International Trading Ltd., said in a complaint filed May 22 in federal court in New York.

Platts, a unit of McGraw Hill Financial Inc. (MHFI), was raided this month along with the three oil companies by EU officials looking for evidence of price manipulation. Platts calculates benchmarks that are used in transactions worldwide based on reports from oil companies that buy and sell crude.

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Commodities trader sues BP, Shell and Statoil for alleged price fixing

(Reuters) – A commodities trader has filed suit against BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Statoil in a U.S. federal court, accusing the companies of colluding to fix prices in North Sea Brent crude oil.

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Thu May 23, 2013 4:33pm EDT

(Reuters) – A commodities trader filed suit against BP Plc (BP.L), Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) and Statoil (STL.OL) in a U.S. federal court, accusing the companies of colluding to fix prices in North Sea Brent crude oil.

Prime International Trading Ltd, in a proposed class-action lawsuit filed in the courthouse in White Plains, New York on Wednesday, accused the oil companies of misreporting prices of trades in the North Sea benchmark, which sets the price of about 70 percent of the world’s oil.

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Collusion in reference prices for oil?

EXTRACTS: Oil market participants have called into question the accuracy of Platts’s benchmarks. In an August letter to the International Organization of Securities Commissions, Total Oil Trading, an arm of French oil company Total, said Platts’s prices are “out of line with our experience” several times a year. Spokesmen for BP, Shell, and Statoil declined to comment.

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Europe’s Oil Market Gets Its Own Price Benchmarks Scandal

By , , and : May 23 2013

Statoil (STO) sold a tanker of Norwegian crude valued at about $63 million to BP (BP) on May 9. That transaction, which wasn’t subject to any oversight by financial authorities, would help set the price of more than half the world’s oil. The deal was reported to Platts, a unit of McGraw Hill Financial (MHFI), which uses information from traders and others involved in the market to set benchmarks for oil and related products. Platts’s figures help determine the price refiners pay for crude, which in turn affects what consumers pay for gasoline and diesel fuel.

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Petrol retailers to hand allegations of manipulation to European investigators

Allegations of “malpractice” in the oil market that could have cost drivers hundreds of pounds will be handed over to European investigators by a group representing 5,000 independent garages.

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Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 01.06.41By Rowena Mason, Political Correspondent: 12:01AM BST 23 May 2013

The Petrol Retailers’ Association said it has turned to the European Commission after British authorities failed to act on its “formal and detailed complaint” alleging “anti-competitive practices” in the oil and petrol markets.

The European Commission last week raided the offices of BP and Shell in London over suspicions oil companies have “colluded” to distort fuel prices. The companies have confirmed they are fully co-operating with the investigation but cannot comment further while the investigation is underway.

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A slap for Shell

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By Rob Davies: PUBLISHED 22 May 2013

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 23.42.42Investors joined environmental protesters in giving Royal Dutch Shell a slap on the wrists, as a tenth of them failed to back the oil giant’s pay arrangements.

In what is likely to be chief executive Peter Voser’s last annual meeting before he retires, some 10 per cent of shareholders snubbed the remuneration report.

The vote comes just days after Shell’s London offices were raided in a European Commission investigation into oil price fixing.

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Women in Shell

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 09.27.03Shell is a very macho culture. There is some tokenism with weasel words spoken about the need for diversity – but little action. Voser’s claim that there are not enough talented women available is absurd given Shell’s financial and international strengths. The reality is that Shell was always run by British accountants and Dutch engineers – and it still is. And they wear suits.

FROM A SHELL RELATED SOURCE

The only Executive Director of Shell (as opposed to non Execs) was Linda Cook. Some saw her as a possible CEO but the reality is that as an American she was disconnected from the vast core of the Shell World about which she knew nothing and learned less. She was tough and had some credibility but when her failings became all too apparent it was often her gender that was blamed. Another more talented American woman who nearly made it was Lynn Elsenhams but again her prospects were not helped by her career history which was mostly in Shell Oil.

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Shell says hunt for new CEO is underway

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By Andrew Callus

THE HAGUE | Tue May 21, 2013 9:35am EDT

(Reuters) – The hunt for Royal Dutch Shell’s (RDSa.L) next chief executive is underway, its chairman said on Tuesday, after CEO Peter Voser made what could be his last appearance at the oil group’s annual shareholder meeting.

Voser announced his surprise decision three weeks ago to step down in the first half of 2014, before his 56th birthday, and less than five years into the role.

“The process has started,” Shell chairman Jorma Ollila told Reuters after the meeting when asked about the succession plan.

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Shell Environmental and Human Rights Crimes in Brazil

EMAIL RECEIVED BY JOHN DONOVAN

Hello John and good-afternoon from Brazil!

I don’t know whether you have been told or not but Shell and Basf have come to a judicial agreement and has paid for our rights along with medical assistance for direct former employees and its children for a lifetime.

Thank you so much for your help.

Truly yours,
Manoel Miguel

Extract

The factory was built in 1977 by Shell. Dozens of former employees of the plant have been diagnosed with prostate, thyroid and other types of cancer, circulatory, liver and intestinal illnesses, as well as infertility and sexual impotence.

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We can’t find capable women, says Shell

Royal Dutch Shell has admitted it needs more women on its board but pleaded for “patience” as it tried to find suitable candidates.

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Shell chief Peter Voser told the AGM that it would be “inappropriate” to speculate on the outcome of a European Commission investigation into oil price rigging. Photo: AFP/Getty

By 7:13PM BST 21 May 2013

The energy giant on Tuesday saw the number of women on its top table dwindle to one after non-executive director Christine Morin-Postel stepped down at its annual general meeting. Linda G. Stuntz, another non-executive, will now be the sole woman alongside 10 men.

Challenged by a shareholder on the issue, Shell’s chairman Jorma Ollila indicated the company planned to appoint more women over the next year but said it was still searching for “females who really have the ability to contribute” to the board. “We need a little bit more time,” he told shareholders, asking for “patience”.

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Shell suffers embarrassing shareholder rebellion over executive pay

Bonus awarded to outgoing chief executive Peter Voser prompts 8% of shareholders to vote against remuneration policy

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Bumper £8m pay package for Shell boss Peter Voser (Daily Mail Article)

Shell suffered an embarrassing 10% shareholder rebellion against its executive pay report on Tuesday.

Almost 8% of the investor base voted against the company’s remuneration policy, which handed its outgoing chief executive Peter Voser a €3.3m (£2.8m) cash bonus in a year when profits dropped by $1.6bn (£1.05bn) to $27bn.

A further 2% of investors abstained from the vote at Shell’s annual meeting in The Hague.

The bonus took Voser’s total salary package to €5.1m, down from €5.2m the previous year, although this is still more than double the $2.7m package given to BP boss Bob Dudley last year. Dudley received no bonus as the company continues to deal with the consequences of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

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Watchdogs join oil giants on rack in price-fix case

Screen Shot 2013-01-31 at 08.47.44It is not the first time oil companies have been in regulators’ cross hairs. In September 2006, the European Commission fined 14 firms €266.7m (£224.8m) for rigging the price of bitumen over eight years in the Netherlands. Shell received the biggest penalty.

FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES Page 9, 19 May 2013

Watchdogs join oil giants on rack in price-fix case

After whistleblowers’ claims of rigging failed, Brussels is trying to prove it

Extracts from the article by Karl West

It was June last year, and Halfon had just received an email from an oil trader who wanted to expose the tricks used to manipulate oil prices.

Abbott was sent to make sure the person purporting to be a trader was not a crank.

First impressions were good. The middle-aged man was dressed in a smart navy suit, and it was soon clear that he had a “forensic” knowledge of the oil futures market.

It is not the first time oil companies have been in regulators’ cross hairs. In September 2006, the European Commission fined 14 firms €266.7m (£224.8m) for rigging the price of bitumen over eight years in the Netherlands. Shell received the biggest penalty.

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The scandal of alleged oil price-fixing

The whistleblower gave Halfon a statement in which he said the price of oil was being deliberately distorted: ‘I trade the oil market on a daily basis and every day the price is manipulated,’ he said. ‘There is ample oil in the system to satisfy demand at the moment. Profiteering seems to be the only objective.’

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By Jon Rees And Sarah Bridge, Financial Mail On Sunday: PUBLISHED: 22:34, 18 May 2013 | UPDATED: 08:15, 20 May 2013

The scandal of alleged price-fixing by British oil companies has turned the spotlight on the bizarre way in which petrol prices for much of the world are set by a few people sat in a London office for 30 minutes.

Britain’s Shell and BP, along with Norway’s Statoil, are at the centre of a massive EC investigation after officials raided their offices in the capital last week.

All of the firms are co-operating with the investigation but they face public outrage if they are proved to have manipulated the wholesale price of oil.

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Peter Voser AGM comment on price-rigging: the words of a pharisee?

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No doubt you picked this up already.
 
The words of a pharisee (red is mine). And what does he really mean, allegations of manipulation are against everything we believe. So Shell does not believe in allegations? Manipulation is OK?:

Extracts from Dow Jones Report

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands–The European Union probe into potential energy-price manipulation has made no adverse findings against Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the company’s chief executive Peter Voser said Tuesday.

European antitrust regulators raided the offices of Shell last week…

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Kulluk grounding: Shell Oil testimony opens Coast Guard hearing in Anchorage

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Screen Shot 2013-01-11 at 20.09.51Suzanna Caldwell:May 20, 2013

A subdued Anchorage Assembly chambers turned into a federal courtroom of sorts Monday as members of the U.S. Coast Guard questioned Royal Dutch Shell officials over the grounding of one of its prized Arctic drilling vessels in stormy Gulf of Alaska winter weather.

The Coast Guard’s formal marine casualty investigation hearings began by recounting events leading to the New Year’s Eve grounding of the Kulluk conical drilling unit off the shores of Sitkalidak Island, near Kodiak Island.

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Shell feared disaster days before Alaska rig grounding: official

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska | Tue May 21, 2013 5:28am BST

(Reuters) – Days before a Shell drillship went aground in the storm-tossed Gulf of Alaska, it was clear that towing failures could spell disaster for the vessel, the crew and the marine environment, a company official told a U.S. Coast Guard panel on Monday.

The Kulluk, having completed preliminary drilling on an exploration well in the Beaufort Sea, broke away from its tow lines, and support vessels attempting to regain control of the drillship developed their own engine and mechanical problems, Norman Custard, Royal Dutch Shell’s Alaska emergency response leader, told the panel.

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Shell’s succession plans in focus at annual meeting

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THE HAGUE | Tue May 21, 2013 12:05am BST

May 21 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch/Shell CEO Peter Voser may be making his last appearance on the podium at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday, turning the spotlight on management’s plans for a successor.

Voser announced his surprise decision three weeks ago to step down in the first half of 2014, before his 56th birthday, and less than five years into the role.

Employees of the 180-year old Anglo-Dutch group, which traditionally grows its own top executives, believe an import is unlikely to get the top job, but Voser is only the second person to hold the CEO role under a simplified corporate structure introduced in 2005.

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Price-fixing investigation targeting Shell, BP, and StatOil

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John,

Your readers may find the following links interesting in view of the latest allegations regarding Royal Dutch Shell, BP, StatOil, and perhaps others:

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act – Wikipedia, the 

en.wikipedia.org/…/Racketeer_Influenced_and_Corrupt_Organizations_...‎

This law-related article does not cite its references or sources. You can help Wikipedia by including appropriate 

Summary – RICO predicate offenses – Application of RICO laws – Famous cases

18 USC Chapter 96 – RACKETEER INFLUENCED AND CORRUPT 

www.law.cornell.edu › USC › Title 18 › Part I

The Congress number forms the first part of the Public Law number; each Congress  The Public Law field is linked to the development of the law in the Thomas system  RICO · Equal Employment Opportunity Commission · Affirmative action 

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Oil Bosses Covered in Mystery Substance

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Shell directors face up to 5 years in jail if guilty of price-fixing

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 01.06.41By John Donovan

Assessment of current situation in the price-rigging investigation partly based on an articled published today by The Lawyer today under the headline “All eyes on energy“:

  • Royal Dutch Shell is being advised by Clifford Chance in relation to the allegations of price-fixing.
  • Competition lawyers say that the investigation could be “bigger than Libor”.
  • If the allegations prove to be true, there is the prospect of unlimited fines and jail terms of up to 5 years for  directors.
  • There is an incentive of reduced sanctions dependent on the degree of co-operation i.e. turning informer.
  • Shell has confirmed that it is co-operating with the investigation.
  • Shell lawyers will have to decide whether to defend or continue to co-operate.

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Groningen Exxon/Shell gas fields – the Dutch earthquake zone

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By Anna Holligan BBC News, The Netherlands

As earthquakes become more intense and more frequent in the north of the Netherlands, there is mounting pressure on the government to reduce the amount of gas being extracted there.

It is a curse for thousands of inhabitants having to cope with the effects of living amid the Groningen gas fields – the largest in Europe.

There exists a consensus among all parties – including the gas companies – that the process of extracting the gas is causing earthquakes, but the country is thriving on the proceeds.

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You can’t be sure of seeing Shell’s AGM

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If you couldn’t travel to the Hague to protest, you could always attend the live link-up in London. But now you can’t even do that

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Rupert Neate: The Observer, Sunday 19 May 2013

Angry about the oil giants allegedly fixing the price of petrol for more than a decade? You’ll have a chance to harangue Shell – its offices were raided by European Union officials investigating the claims last week – at its annual general meeting on Tuesday. But only if you get on a plane to the Hague.

Royal Dutch Shell, the British part of which was founded by Lord Bearsted in 1897, has been regularly holding its meeting in the Dutch city most famous for trying war criminals.

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EU oil price probe underlines flawed system

FINANCIAL TIMES

By Ajay Makan and Javier Blas in London: May 17, 2013 5:48 pm

In simultaneous raids this week on the offices of the oil majors BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Statoil of Norway, and Platts, a leading price reporting agency that helps set energy benchmark prices, the European Commission has fired the starting gun on one of the biggest cross-country investigations into benchmark pricing since banks were caught red-handed…

(THIS IS THE BEST ARTICLE WE HAVE READ EXPLAINING ABOUT THE INVESTIGATION AND HOW ENERGY BENCHMARK PRICES ARE SET)

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Secret papers ‘show how Shell targeted Nigeria oil protests’

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Documents seen by The IoS support claims energy giant enlisted help of country’s military government

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By Andy Rowell Sunday 14 June 2009

Serious questions over Shell Oil’s alleged involvement in human rights abuses in Nigeria emerged last night after confidential internal documents and court statements revealed how the energy giant enlisted the help of the country’s brutal former military government to deal with protesters.

The documents, seen by the IoS, support allegations that Shell helped to provide Nigerian police and military with logistical support, and aided security sweeps of the oil-rich Niger Delta. Earlier this month Shell agreed to pay $15.5m (£9.6m) in a “humanitarian settlement” on the eve of a highly embarrassing US lawsuit.

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Selection of Shell related article links 19 May 2013

Selection of Shell related article links kindly provided by a regular contributor

If ‘everyone knew’ the oil market was open to rigging, why did no one The Guardian-It is worth spelling out that manipulation of the oil market, which could  Statoil, BP and Shell are not just petrol providers – they are major gas 

European probe into oil price-fixing widens to Finland: Marketplace.org-May 17, 2013: Earlier this week, EU officials raided the offices of three of Europe’s biggest oil companies — BP, Shell and Statoil — and the oil price reporting company Platts, 

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Shell and BP in secret meetings about oil

Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 08.31.34Top petrol chiefs held talks once a year: The whistleblower claimed the office was swept for bugs before the talks, lasting nearly two hours. He added: “The security around their meetings was incredible. There was lock-down. The whole floor was a no-go area for anyone else. “It was just the two of them — the bosses of two huge rival companies — no PAs, no deputies. “It’s common knowledge they were talking about oil prices.”

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Meetings … oil bosses Jeroen van der Veer, left, and John Browne

Exclusive By RHODRI PHILLIPS

The ex-boss of Shell held top-secret meetings with the BP chief, an insider claimed last night.

Jeroen van der Veer entertained John Browne strictly ALONE at his London HQ once a year, a former Shell worker said.

The whistleblower claimed the office was swept for bugs before the talks, lasting nearly two hours.

The firms face claims of ‘price fixing’.

He added: “The security around their meetings was incredible. There was lock-down. The whole floor was a no-go area for anyone else.

“It was just the two of them — the bosses of two huge rival companies — no PAs, no deputies.

“It’s common knowledge they were talking about oil prices.”

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Shell: oil market regulation will cost consumers

Royal Dutch Shell lobbied against proposed European rules designed to clamp down on commodity market abuse, arguing they would raise costs for consumers and increase market volatility.

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Shell argued strongly against elements of EC reforms to “strengthen the fight against market abuse across commodity and related derivative markets”.

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Emily Gosden By 10:00PM BST 18 May 2013

The oil giant was last week raided by European Commission investigators over suspicions it could have colluded with BP and others to rig the oil price for more than a decade by reporting distorted prices to a price reporting agency (PRA).

The investigation has reignited the broader debate around regulation of trading in commodities such as oil and gas, which affect prices paid by consumers.

European Union politicians are considering EC plans to “strengthen the fight against market abuse across commodity and related derivative markets” and to revise the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) to “enhance the transparency and oversight of derivatives markets including commodity markets”.

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Shell and BP bosses met secretly to fix oil prices?

The Sun newspaper alleges Shell boss Jeroen van der Veer secretly met Lord Browne of BP once a year to discuss oil prices. Perfectly matched pair to engage in some jiggery-pokery.

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By John Donovan

The Sun newspaper alleges Shell boss Jeroen van der Veer secretly met Lord Browne of BP once a year to discuss oil prices.

Under the website headline “Shell and BP in secret meetings about oil”, the Sun is publishing an article on Sunday alleging that Jeroen van der Veer, Peter Vosers predecessor as Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, secretly met his BP counter-part, Lord Browne, once a year to discuss oil prices.

(Headline in Sun Newspaper article: “I NEED WORD IN YOUR SHELL-LIKE ABOUT OIL”)

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Libor in a barrel

Oil markets fall under the suspicion of price-fixing on a global scale

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