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Royal Dutch Shell: Reminiscences of an old EP hand

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 07.56.54Then came the roaring 90s. Everything had to be done faster, shareholder value, bonuses, do like ENRON etc etc. This led to an influx of fast talking americans with me first, rest later attitude and the contractor will fix it. Scandals like the Tejas Gas disaster (carefully kept away from the press) and other bad things emerged (just check out the Donovan website). And the fast talking americans then swarmed out over Shell International and changed the culture. Me first, screw the rest. The rest is history…..

Comment “From an old EP hand” posted on Jan 23rd, 2014 at 11:33 

@relieved
Until the early 90s Shell Oil had many great designers and other top professionals. They were second to none when it came to HPHT welldesigns (and offshore development, geophysics etc). Also very pragmatic and hands-on experience.

I remember Leo Broussard, genuine good old boy. He could smoke a big cigar and drink whiskey without taking the cigar from his mouth. But he knew more about well and completion design than anyone else in the world. And he was always willing to share his knowledge. Just not interested in making a career, his passion was designing complicated completions!

Shell International thought in those days a 10K well was high pressure. At this time Shell Oil was already working on 25k and 30k wells. Shell Oil was not so good at deepwater stuff in hostile environments. They, like all americans, relied too much on API standards, the lowest common denominator they could get away with. The North Sea set the world standards and took the lead.

Then came the roaring 90s. Everything had to be done faster, shareholder value, bonuses, do like ENRON etc etc. This led to an influx of fast talking americans with me first, rest later attitude and the contractor will fix it. Scandals like the Tejas Gas disaster (carefully kept away from the press) and other bad things emerged (just check out the Donovan website).

Phil Carrol was quietly removed about 9 months later for his role in Tejas Gas. He presided over the meeting that approved the purchase during the one time there was no rep from Shell International. Neither Herkstroter nor Moody-Stuart could attend so he moved knowing full well that Herkstroter et all were vehemently opposed. Shell Oil became a bust or boom company.

Shell Oil always has been pragmatic with a can-do attitude. But doing first thinking later and this does not work in extreme environments and pushing the design envelope. They put top people (of the old school) and formed Aera which performed brilliantly and revived Bakersfield.

And the fast talking americans then swarmed out over Shell International and changed the culture. Me first, screw the rest. The rest is history….. Do not make the mistake to assume all americans fall in the fast talking category, I have met several genuinely capable and hardworking people from Shell Oil who put the company first and the rest later. But they were a minority.

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