By John Donovan
Anyone who has read the postings made on this website in recent years by insiders working on the Motiva Refinery expansion project should not be in the least surprised by the series of serious mishaps following the restart, which taken together, can only be described as a complete and utter shambles.
Motiva Enterprises is jointly owned by Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Saudi Aramco.
As a reminder of the dire warnings about the project management team assembled by Tom Purves, I have printed below a selection of postings by one such insider – “Golden Triangle Watchman” – in this case, alarming postings stretching back four years. They reveal some of the internal politics and intrigue which blighted the project.
Shell reacted to the flood of postings by Shell/Motive staff by assigning attorneys on both sides of the Atlantic to monitor this website. Shell also called in spooks from Shell Corporate AffairsÂ Security who set up a global spying operation trying to stop insider information from being supplied to me and to trace Shell employees visiting this website from Shell premises.
I found this all out after making a legal application to Shell under the UK Data Protection Act. The information was later confirmed to me by a very senior insider source at Shell Global Security, who had moral indigestion about Shell’s clandestine activities, which incidentally, included involving the US Government and a specialist cyber-crimes unit in Pittsburgh set up and partly funded and staffed by the FBI.
What a shame for Shell shareholders that Shell senior management did not pay more heed to the warnings published on this website and less to Tom Purves and his equally incompetent cronies.
As a direct consequence, American drivers will likely be paying higher gas prices for a long time to come.
Submitted on 2009/10/08 at 11:59
We all know why Anne Marie left. Tom Purves had a vendetta out against her because he thought she was the link to his old boss. Elsenhans never respected Purves and he knew it. So in typical Tom fashion, he used the Funkhouser to undermine what Anne Marie was trying to do at Norco. She finally learned how to accept it and just live with what she had. I guess she finally got tired enough of the disrespect she got from Tom. So now Tom really has his Motiva team setâ€¦. the A teamâ€¦.. We have Lost in the Forrest Lauher at PAR( and trust me, he is lost), Convent has the Purves child David Brainiac, and now Norco has the interim site manager Mr. Hermie Bundick. Last time we saw Hermie over here in the Golden Triangle, he was getting run off by Huntsman because of the plant explosion in 2007. Now that is the A teamâ€¦.. of course donâ€™t forget the benchâ€¦. Jeff Funkhouser( wonder how he is doing in China or if he even was able to get a passport) and the bag carrier Jim Hartsockâ€¦. watching pipe modules from his little old home in St Louisâ€¦.. I wonder what the boys in St Louis think of Hartsock nowâ€¦.. Big time Jimâ€¦..
Tom, you suck. And Iâ€™m watching you.
Submitted on 2009/08/04 at 04:05
IT4ME, The way the people let go were handled in Manufacturing within the Gulf Coast was horrible in Motiva Port Arthur and Convent. People were told early in the morning and then walked to the gate. They werenâ€™t even able to get their personal belongings and take them home. They could not even get pictures of their family or children and take it with them. Fundamentally, Shell has lost track of what it is as a company due to a few bad managers. The plants above have defaulted to a low standard because of Tom Purves and his approach to â€œmake a differenceâ€. His leadership teams do what he wants them to do because they are either part of his inner circle or they are scared for their job. They each got the loyalty talk when the past GM left PAR. They know what they have to do to keep their jobs. Convent just has a weak leadership team. No real surprise. And the senior leaders that Tom has to answer to donâ€™t weigh in and just let him do what he choosesâ€¦.. well there you go. Maybe this tells us more about Shell in the broader sense.
Submitted on 2009/07/25 at 00:37
Re IPFs at PAR, they basically get set where Tom wants them set. That was Monneteâ€™s problem at the plant.He was trying to make a difference by changing our culture and driving the accountability of the team. This was ruffling the featherâ€™s of some of Tomâ€™s boyz down in the trenches. Monnete had a mind of his own and Tom didnâ€™t like it. Down goes the IPF. Look at Forrestâ€¦ he sat there unknowingly I guess and let the project get out of control. His punishment should have been a pink slip. What did he get? Slide over Monnete and let me driveâ€¦ because Tom said I could. Wonder what his IPF was? Mr Botts, go back and look at the many of the ones let go for â€œperformanceâ€ or â€œredundancyâ€ and you will find an IPF trend that doesnâ€™t make sense and you will find that room for Tomâ€™s old team was made at the expense of people who were trying to take our plant to a new place. Now we have all of Tomâ€™s inner circle running the place and doing exactly what Tom wants done. Heck, itâ€™s like he never leftâ€¦.. I read with embarassment the stuff posted about Funkhouser. How can he still be on the payroll? And yet, go look at his IPF. I wonder what you would find. I agree with outsider, we have some hard working people on this team that an make a difference and some that were that have been punished for some who donâ€™t have a clue. And for USCITIZEN, why do we have to come on here and voice our concerns? Well that ought to tell you about the state of affairs with the current leadership in our region. They all basically march to the drum of the Purves waltz either because they are scared or because the koolaid was good. I wait for the day when our leadership fixes this fiasco and allows us to getting back to feeling good about our company and who we are as a team.
Submitted on 2010/12/24 at 14:57
Re Interestedâ€¦. I think you will see a bad start-up because the construction is / has been bad all along. There is no contractor, excluding Bechtel, that feels good about what they have participated in. Re Tom, retirement by end of 2011 or sooner if he is successful in pushing the project to completion sooner. Face it, he got demoted and sent over here to clean the mess up he created. He is only interested in his legacy and his ego, nothing else. Re Jeff, too young to retire and he has an ex wife who owns half of what he gets so he will want to keep working. As soon as Tom leaves, Jeff will be disposed of in a quiet way. He knows it, Tom knows it, and Shell mgt canâ€™t wait. Jeff is bad to the bone and just dirty. Has been as I understand it for many many years. Forrest wonâ€™t be too far behind. He is a joke and just does what these 2 tell him to.
Re Shellieâ€¦ wake up. This story isnâ€™t about Nazis. Itâ€™s about how Shell mgt continues to connect themselves with bad people, bad govts, and because the leadership we have for our company is weak and basically programmed to preach the same message, they are bad. Not so much because they are evil I belive; they are just bad and weak leaders. Not much left to say.
Submitted on 2010/10/01 at 12:34
US Citizenâ€¦. I have no hatred for Tom Purves. What I actually hate is favoritism, lying, egotism, manipulation, hypocracy. Tom exhibits all of these and very little leadership skills. Tom falls in this catagory along with the fact that he flat out lied to get people off the payroll that he didnâ€™t want on the payroll and senior leadership knows that. He also lied about some other things which will eventually come out, like environmental performance at our plant. That has been buried deep to allow for the CEP to get its permit. Just look around and see how many of our past environmental dept from 2 years ago is still in place or with the company. A complete turnoverâ€¦.. Does anyone wonder why? Motiva got rid of them because of what they found. Iâ€™m sure Hilton Kelley could get an ear full if he hasnâ€™t already. Alot of this was on Tomâ€™s watch and he knows it as did the Motiva CEO. Iâ€™ve worked here at the Port Arthur plant for 20 years. Tom had a good message early on but it became clear pretty quickly that he was no good, had his favorites, and was not interested in changing the culture, just status quo. He ultimately has a few close allies that he brings with him everywhere, like Funkhouser, Laugher, Hartsock. Man, this is the best he has got. My understanding on Jeff is he got sold from the company with Tosco up north and came back in because Tom got him a job with the company. Here you have a man with no formal education, other than how to suck up, getting up to 1 step away from a plant manager. You wonder why. The folks in the rank laugh at this guy. He has long forgot what true leadership is about. Tom created this and has allowed this to grow. And the issue I have with HR is they have become nothing but a group of staffers, hanging on to the senior leaders, doing what they are asked to do, assuming their role is to identify and help develop the leaders of tomorrow, with very little understanding of what true leadership in the field needs to be. The People survey is a joke and all know it. It stopped being useful after the first edition. Senior leaders donâ€™t use it except to update every other year what they heard. And you can discount my feedback all you likeâ€¦.. gas cards were paid to get the numbers up. With you being in HR, I can understand why this whole topic doesnâ€™t feel good. Itâ€™s okâ€¦. Go hook up with Jeff Funkhouser, he can find you a job.
Submitted on 2011/04/08 at 11:47
So it will be interesting to watch as Uncle Tom Purves has to come clean on the cost of the Motiva CEP project. He originally sold it as a $7B project as the clown Lauher and the rest of the project team put their pencil to paper and came up with the costs. Of course, all of those people have been run off the project. Meanwhile, the owners gave Uncle Tom a chance to come clean back in Dec 2008 when they shipped him back over to clean up the mess. Most of his check estimates came in north of $10B. What does he do? He goes back and says â€œNot a penny more than $8.5B and we can get this project complete.â€ Well, he has had to go back to the well several times since then and the project stands at an approved budget of something north of $9B. He is going back for another $0.5B soon. The estimates still say north of $10B. Uncle Tom, we wish you well. Glad to see you are a big project guy much like your buddy Forest. And letâ€™s not forget that the start-up plan for this albatross is pretty bad. Who is running that show? Take a guessâ€¦.. Uncle Tomâ€™s sidekick â€œda Funkâ€. This is going to be a hoot to watch as it comes across the finish line. All I can say is No clue.
Submitted on 2012/03/03 at 14:14
The article re Brinded and Nigeria on â€œwhy Shell canâ€™t build a refinery in Nigeriaâ€ is comical. Though the justification is correct, the reality is Shell canâ€™t build a refinery anywhere. Just look at our own Port Arthur project. Under Tom Purvesâ€™s leadership, this ill fated concept got hatched. Everyone was happy in the early days, taking Port Arthur back to the glory days. Alas, the cit leaders didnâ€™t plan on Tom and the project team bringing global help in here via Bechtel to do the work and therefore not impact the locals nearly as much as what had been advertised. Now, some 2 years late on the commitment for start-up and a price tag that will ultimately grow to $14B, Shell might just as well say â€ Forget Nigeriaâ€¦we canâ€™t build a refinery anywhere. â€ Tomâ€™s legacy goes down the toilet with this project. He would do well to retire and at least give our team half a chance to run it well.
By the way, for any that are watchingâ€¦. Tomâ€™s #2 boy, Forrest Lauher, aka Forrest Liar, resigned from Shell as Botts sent the anticipated note out yesterday. Forrest was in over his head from day 1 on this project, given to him by none other than Tom Purves. He lost control of the project and got removed back in 2009. Should have been fired. Instead he got saved and was placed in our plant manager seat. Again, couldnâ€™t handle the top job and they pulled him last year. We can only wait for the notice on Tomâ€™s #1 boy Funkhater and then ultimately Tom himself. 2012 is starting to be a great year!
Submitted on 2012/03/08 at 12:01
As you can see, another power outage at Motiva Port Arthur. Going to really be interesting to watch this new albatross come up on rates and then have this 100 year old power supply keep shutting it down. Tom, why didnâ€™t you fix the electrical system when you had the opportunity? Too busy counting your stock options I guess. Let Jeff do that for you and try to make a difference in your final days.
Submitted on 2012/03/22 at 12:02
If anyone is counting, power outage #3 in the past few weeks happened again for the motiva port arthur facility. Tom, why arenâ€™t you adressing this? or are you too busy with getting feed in to the new refinery so you can get off the clock? Itâ€™s a shame that we are starting this new refinery up with a flat tire. Hilton, are you counting how many times we are in the flare?
Submitted on 2012/05/31 at 12:23
Re Motiva Port Arthur, I hope people donâ€™t believe the propaganda that the CEP project created 300 permanent jobs. It did create some new jobs, not close to 300. It also doesnâ€™t account for the many jobs that were lost. The only way this project pays off is if Port Arthur brings on the additional capacity with the same basic fixed costs that the facility had prior to the project. There are 2 jobs that the project does need to eliminate, Tom Purves and Jeff Funkhouser. That may help pay for some of the overage of the project costs. Iâ€™m sure we will never hear the true costs of the project. Clearly over $12B.
Submitted on 2012/06/01 at 02:58
Motiva CEO and Saudi Aramco states that cost for the expansion are in the range of $10Bâ€¦â€¦ give or take $2B. This sounds like the rubbish that Purves keeps feeding these goons. Purves, you looked old todayâ€¦. Go home and cash in your worthless Shell stock. Enjoy your tea!!!
Submitted on 2012/10/30 at 11:05
Re the Motiva article, so trueâ€¦..How prophetic that the picture of Voser and the senior execs are sitting there opening a valve at the ceremonyâ€¦. and ultimately, a valve just like it allowed caustic to get into the unit. This project was terrible from the startâ€¦bad idea started by Tom Purvesâ€¦.. Bad project team, led by Tomâ€™s buddy forrest Lauher, who had no idea how to run a project of this size, bad leadership throughout the projectâ€¦.. Tom decides to come save the project when in fact he has never worked on a major project and has no skills to actually deliver what he promisedâ€¦. his cronies were dropped onto the project in various jobsâ€¦..Hartsock, Funkhouser, all with promises of making a differenceâ€¦. meanwhile no one would speak up for fear of losing their job. The project finally falls on its face, only after Tom gets shipped out to Siberia. Everyone thought he would get paid a nice severance and retire but after this embarassment, the senior Shell execs couldnâ€™t pay Tom a nice payday. Tom then had to move on to Canada where he is now head of miningâ€¦.. laughable. And his buddy Funkhouser is working on the next mega projectâ€¦laughableâ€¦. he will somehow work his way up to Canada to be with his daddy Tomâ€¦. Iâ€™m sure he will wait until it warms upâ€¦. and old Forrest is now off in El Paso working for a small refinery company after being run off from Shellâ€¦.. This is Shellâ€™s finest. Tom, you are a joke. I hope you enjoy your stroll to the bank. Everyone else will when you leave.
Submitted on 2013/01/19 at 14:53
Someone should get OSHA in here at Port Arthur and review our plans for start-up on this crude unit. Management just keeps hacking away at the last problem pipe and trying to get back to start-up versus spending the right amount of time proving that the unit can startup safely. How long is our company going to continue to try and start up this problem before we dop back and systematically fix the problem? Motivaâ€™s leadership at this plant is weak.
Submitted on 2013/03/01 at 11:59
John is 100% spot on re Shellâ€™s senior mgt, including their HR cronies, watching this website. It is a joke how much attention they pay to this, looking for the truth among the smoke. Ask Uncle Tom Purves if they read this or not. Oh yea, he is stuck up in the cold north, by Santa Claus. Might be hard to get a question him until the thaw comes. You bet your dollar they read thisâ€¦
Shell and Saudi Aramco invested $10 billion to expand their Motiva plant, but fires and leaks have crippled America’s largest refinery.