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Royal Dutch Shell Fooling About With Numbers

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 16.29.29So a 5 minute look inside the reported numbers paints a different picture, certainly a clearer picture and a picture that despite the hot air,  from a risk analysis viewpoint clarifies that there has been no significant reduction in risk despite the credit being taken by the industry and the Regulator.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 20.41.26ARTICLE BY BILL CAMPBELL (RIGHT), RETIRED SHELL INTERNATIONAL HSE GROUP AUDITOR

Fooling about with numbers.

As a shareholder I received a letter from Shell UK Country Chairman recently.  Under Health and Safety he takes credit for an important milestone achieved in April 2013 when he states our upstream business in the North Sea achieved an important milestone in a 50 per cent reduction in the number of hydrocarbon releases over the last three years in line with the industry commitment made in 2009.  In 2008 there were 83 major and significant releases and this reduced to 72 in 2009.  The Energy Minister and the HSE pronounced this at the time as a significant reduction but actually it only reduced mean time between releases from circa every 4 days to circa every 5 days, hardly a significant reduction. From formal risk analysis a significant risk reduction could only be claimed by an order of magnitude reduction that is from 83 to 8.  However, the politics of any reduction is to blow your trumpet whether the reduction is actually reducing risk or not.

However back to the recent letter from the Chairman. What we are not made aware of is what Shell’s contribution to the 50 per cent reduction was.  That aside, the 2012/13 figures listed 46 major and significant releases or mean time between releases circa every 8 days and as I have attempted to hammer home, over and over, that any one of these releases has the potential, are likely, to cause a major accident event.  Also not covered in the numbers is that 9 releases of the 46 were defined as major up from three the previous year or the largest number of major releases recorded in the last 14 years.

So a 5 minute look inside the reported numbers paints a different picture, certainly a clearer picture and a picture that despite the hot air,  from a risk analysis viewpoint clarifies that there has been no significant reduction in risk despite the credit being taken by the industry and the Regulator.  Certainly a reduction is always better than an increase but we only need one of these releases to ignite, perhaps it will be the next one, so the North Sea has still got a long way to go.

When fooling around with numbers you can communicate to the man in the street a false sense of the realty of the situation when or if it is in your vested self interest so to do.

Bill Campbell

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