Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image

Posts under ‘Environment’

$2.47bn at stake in US case: Shell/Exxon v Nigerian National Petroleum Corp

By John Donovan

Provided below are links to a selection of US court documents I have published online about a dispute being litigated in the US courts involving Shell, Exxon and the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp (NNPC). A gigantic sum (including interest) of $2.47bn USD is at stake.

In an echo of the Esther Kiobel v Shell case, also currently being heard in the US courts, the current arguments are about the discovery process. (Esther is actually suing Shell’s US lawyers, Cravath Swaine & Moore.) read more

FINAL EXTRACT ESTHER KIOBEL WRIT SERVED ON SHELL 28 JUNE 2017

By John Donovan

Published below are the final pages – 113 to 138 – inclusive, from the Writ served on multiple companies within the Royal Dutch Shell Group on 28 June 2017 on behalf of Esther Kiobel. These pages provide supporting information about the claim, including a List of Exhibits. The formatting is not 100% accurate, but the content is correct.

Extract begins

CLAIM

The claimants request the court to enter judgement, provisionally enforceable as far as possible:

  1. to rule that the defendants acted unlawfully towards the claimants and are jointly and severally liable to them for the damage that they have suffered and will suffer in the future as a result of the defendants’ unlawful actions, which damage is to be assessed during separate follow-up proceedings and settled according to the law, all this plus the statutory interest up to the date of settlement in full;
  2. to order the defendants within 21 days of the judgment to compel the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, in any case the CEO of SPDC, to make a public apology for the role that Shell played in the events leading to the death of the claimants’ spouses and to publish the text of this statement clearly visible on its website, subject to a penalty of €20,000 per day (or a sum to be determined by the court in accordance with the proper administration of justice) that they fail to comply with this order;
  3. to order the defendants jointly and severally to pay the extrajudicial costs;
  4. to order the defendants, jointly and severally, to pay the costs of these proceedings, including the subsequent costs.

The cost of this: €80.42 read more

Kiobel Writ: The Dutch battlefront against Shell

For years, Shell encouraged the Nigerian regime to take (more) effective measures designed to ensure Shell’s return to Ogoniland. Shell did this despite the fact that it had meanwhile learned from experience that in its actions, the regime frequently violated human rights and many people were killed.

By John Donovan

Earlier today we published an article about the latest legal moves on behalf on Esther Kiobel in the US courts against a Shell law firm. We now return to the publication of information about her legal action against Shell in the Netherlands. The numbered paragraphs below are extracted from the 138 page Writ served on multiple Royal Dutch Shell companies on 28 June 2017. As can be seen in the footnotes, the allegations are supported by voluminous evidence.

Extracts begin

8.8 Shell Nigeria Shell operated as a single entity

8.8.1 Introduction read more

Rise of electric cars challenges the world’s thirst for oil

by: , Energy Editor: 8 Aug 2017

Ben van Beurden, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, made no attempt to disguise the challenge facing “Big Oil”. Companies must become more discriminating about which oilfields to develop, he said, with only the most low-cost and productive likely to remain competitive. “We have to have projects that are resilient in a world where demand has peaked and will be declining,” he said. “When will this happen? We do not know. But will it happen? We are certain.” FULL FT ARTICLE read more

Esther Kiobel US Court battle for 100,000 Shell docs continues

Esther Kiobel with legal team and supporters in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington DC, 2012 © Private

Extracts: Cravath put the mountain of Shell discovery items into secure US storage. My guess is that Shell would have preferred an accidental fire. 

Petitioner has already waited over twenty years for a forum that will hear her claims for her husband’s execution. At this point, Petitioner’s co-plaintiffs in the Dutch litigation face increasingly fragile health, and now fear that “further delaying litigation in the Netherlands might impede their ability to bring their claim in the future.”

By John Donovan

Several months ago, a US Federal Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein after carefully considering arguments made by the involved parties ordered Shell’s US lawyers Cravath, Swaine & Moore to give Esther Kiobel access to more than 100,000 Shell discovery documents for use in the Dutch courts. Dutch proceedings against Shell commenced on 28 June 2017.

The Shell internal documents were assembled for Esther Kiobel’s thwarted US action against the oil giant which commenced over a decade ago. That litigation ended with a US Supreme Court decision that she could not bring a human rights claim against Shell in the US for alleged misdeeds committed in Nigeria, including involvement in the judicial murder of the ‘Ogoni 9′. Cravath put the mountain of Shell discovery items into secure US storage. My guess is that Shell would have preferred an accidental fire. read more

Shell Reports Fire, Unit Shutdown at Norco, La., Facility

Dow Jones Newswires

Royal Dutch Shell Plc said Monday that a fire over the weekend at its Norco refining and chemicals facility in Louisiana has forced it to shut down a unit. “There is no timetable for the restart of the unit,” Shell said in an emailed statement, without identifying the specific unit. “Operations are stable. For reasons of commercial confidentiality, we do not provide details about the operational status of individual units or information on supply.” It said no workers were injured in the incident, which happened early Saturday morning. FULL ARTICLE read more

Oil major set to launch electricity supplier in Britain

by Tsveta Zikolova 

Monday, 07 Aug 2017, 12:57 BSTRoyal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSA) is to launch an electricity supplier in Britain, The Times has revealed. The move is part of the group’s strategic push into the electricity sector as it adapts to rising global demand for clean energy. Shell’s share price has advanced today, having added about 0.8 percent in mid-morning trade, and outperforming the benchmark FTSE 100 index which is up about 0.2 percent. The Anglo-Dutch group’s shares have added more than 15 percent to their value over the past year, but have given up a little over two percent in the year-to-date. The Times reported this morning that Shell had applied for a licence to supply power to businesses across Britain… FULL ARTICLE read more

Kiobel Writ: Ogoni 9 trial – Shell deception and machination

While Shell publicly stated that it was trying to persuade the regime to abandon the trial using quiet diplomacy, in reality it continued supporting the regime, while negotiating new projects. It also continued actively involving itself in the course of events during the trial.

By John Donovan

The numbered paragraphs below are extracted from the 138 page Esther Kiobel Writ served on multiple Royal Dutch Shell companies on 28 June 2017. More information about the litigation, this time in the Dutch Courts, is provided after the extracts. As can be seen in the footnotes, the allegations are supported by voluminous evidence.

OGONI 9 TRIAL

Extracts begin

8.7 Shell, knowing how the trial would end, allowed its commercial interests to prevail over the fate of the Ogoni 9

315. Through its close involvement with the case and with the regime Shell knew at an early stage that the suspects would not have a fair trial. In July 1995, more than three months before the tribunal was to pass judgment, Anderson reported on a conversation he had had with President Abacha: read more

In Good Company: Coal miner’s son Jeremy Bentham of Shell comes clean

Shell sees itself as an energy services company rather than an oil and gas operation, he explains. While it has a strong base in oil and gas, it also has a deep understanding of the chemicals business. Meanwhile, other business streams are constantly evaluated for viability. “We have a very, very strong oil and gas base and that part of the company will remain important for many years ahead,” Mr Bentham says. “But new business developments will go on top of that as these areas eventually diminish. So, we will be a part of broader transitions.” Already, the business has changed. The gas side of the equation overtook oil some time ago. Likewise, the chemicals side will only strengthen as the world ceaselessly seeks efficiencies requiring lightweight solutions and more insulation. In time, there will be solar. Shell is already one of the top marketers of biofuels. It is for reasons such as these that Shell Wind Energy was founded in the 1990s. FULL TIMES read more

Kiobel Writ: Shell bribed witnesses in Ogoni 9 trial

Already during the trial in 1995 two witnesses testified that they had been bribed to make incriminating statements in exchange for money and a job at Shell. In their statements Nkpah and Danwi named a number of other witnesses who were bribed by Shell and the regime…: Separate extract: “We knew that Shell, the prosecutor and the members of the tribunal were working hand in glove with each other. 

By John Donovan

The numbered paragraphs below are extracted from the 138 page Esther Kiobel Writ served on multiple Royal Dutch Shell companies on 28 June 2017. More information about the latest litigation, this time in the Dutch Courts, is provided after the extracts. As can be seen in the footnotes, the allegations are supported by voluminous evidence.  

Shell and the Abacha regime operated in tandem

Extracts begin

8.6 Shell contributed to the outcome of the Ogoni 9 trial

8.6.1 Shell was involved in the bribery of witnesses

Already during the trial in 1995 two witnesses testified that they had been bribed to make incriminating statements in exchange for money and a job at Shell. Charles Danwi and Naayone Nkpah made a statement under oath on video on 16 and 27 February 1995 respectively, which was submitted as an affidavit to the Civil Disturbances Tribunal.409 The Tribunal however disregarded the evidence. In their statements Nkpah and Danwi named a number of other witnesses who were bribed by Shell and the regime, that is Celestine Meabe, Kevin Badara,410 Limpa Bah, Peter Fii, Saturday Iye and David Keenom (exhibit 45: Public Deposition Naayone Nkpah, 19 March 2004, pp. 19-22; exhibit 21: Affidavit Charles Danwi, 16 February 1995).411 The false statements of these bribed witnesses were decisive in the conviction of the Ogoni 9.412 The statements of Danwi and Nkpah show that shortly after the murders of the traditional Ogoni leaders they were pressured by the main prosecution witnesses Alhaji Kobani (the brother of the murdered Edward Kobani) and Priscilla Vikue413 to sign a false statement in which they accused the since apprehended MOSOP and NYCOP leaders of the murders.414 Initially they refused to do this, whereupon they were placed under house arrest for some time. Danwi testified that he was then promised the following:

“I was promise[d] that after the case in Court I will be given a house any place in the country, a Contract from Shell and OMPADEC and some amount of money to buy my musical instrument. […] On another date of meeting in Kobani’s House, representative from Shell, OMPADEC, security agents, Govt officials and the Kobani, Orage and Badey’s family were present and they all agreed. The family gave some money say that the money come from Govt. and Shell. In my case I was given N 30,000,- from Shell and Govt.”415

  • Nkpah testified to the same effect and in his fuller statement in the American Kiobel case also said who was involved in the bribery. Apart from Alhaji Kobani and some other family members of the murdered Ogoni chiefs, they were also various representatives of the regime and the oil industry, among them Shell’s lawyer O.C.J. Okocha.416 Nkpah was also promised a house, 30,000 naira and a contract at Shell, OMPADEC or the government.417 In his deposition he said that Celestine Meabe had asked Alhaji Kobani where the 30,000 naira came from, to which Kobani replied:

    “This money come from Shell, government of Nigeria. This is why the chairman, the lawyer representative is here.”.418

  • Kobani introduced this Shell lawyer to Nkpah as O.C.J. Okocha.419 Nkpah also said that Kobani had told him that “anything that is being given to us […] basically is from the government and the Shell and Ubadek [OMPADEC]”.420
  •  Just like Danwi, in exchange for signing the false testimony Nkpah was given a job in the transport section of the municipality of Gokana where, in addition to the 30,000 naira, he received a monthly salary without actually being employed.421
  • Gani Fawehinmi, the suspects’ lawyer, introduced Danwi’s statement on the second day of the Ogoni 9 trial (on 21 February 1995):

    “My Lord, he [Charles Danwi] is number 22 on the list of witnesses. He has sworn to an Affidavit and he has exhibited what is called a principal statement. He accused the Government [and] Shell Development Company for bribing him with thirty thousand naira (N30.000) and a house. He has made a full disclosure that what they have was not his statement […].”422

  •  Although Kiobel’s lawyer Alhaji Oso again tried to stress the importance of the bribery on the third day423 and explained that the reliability of the witnesses was the basis of the case,424 Nkpah and Danwi’s affidavits were not admitted as exculpatory evidence.425 At that point, Danwi and Nkpah had already gone into hiding out of fear for repercussions by the regime and could not therefore give evidence to the hearing. Their fear proved to be well-founded: both men were put on the regime’s blacklist.426 Ultimately they were forced to flee Nigeria and they were accepted as refugees in Benin.427
  • Nkpah is currently living in the United States and is prepared to substantiate his statements in detail as a witness if necessary. Danwi’s current whereabouts are unknown.
  • 8.6.2 Shell maintained direct contact with the judges of the Special Tribunal during the trial read more

    Seeds of unease over Shell US Cracker Plant

    A different perspective from the above recent PR tour by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf of the construction site for the new US Shell Chemicals Cracker Plant is provided in a letter published by The Beaver County Times. See below. This is how controversy kicked off in Ireland when local people raised legitimate questions over the Corrib Gas Project and were treated with disdain by Shell. Disdain turned to jailing of protesters and Shell sponsored corruption to buy the support of the Irish police before Shell gave up and sold out its stake at a loss. The project was hopelessly over budget and ended up delayed by many years.  read more

    The Ogoni 9 trial served to safeguard the common interests of Shell and the Abacha regime

    Shell falsely claimed to be following an apolitical course whilst exerting its influence through quiet diplomacy. In reality, it was very much involved with the course of the events during the trial… Shell’s lawyer was present at the bribing of witnesses who had to give incriminating statements against the “Ogoni 9”; they were offered compensation and a position at Shell;

    By John Donovan

    The numbered paragraphs below are extracted from the 138 page Esther Kiobel Writ served on multiple Royal Dutch Shell companies on 28 June 2017. More information about the latest litigation, this time in the Dutch Courts, is provided after the extracts. As can be seen in the footnotes, the allegations are supported by voluminous evidence.

    Shell and the Abacha regime operated in tandem

    Extracts begin

    8.5 The Ogoni 9 trial served to safeguard the common interests of Shell and the regime

    8.5.1 Introduction

    1. The Ogoni 9 trial was the culmination of Operation Restore Order in Ogoniland. With the Ogoni 9 trial Abacha disposed of the Ogoni’s main political representatives in an extreme attempt to finally break the resistance. The trial served a common goal, the resumption of oil extraction in Ogoniland, and followed the ceaseless urging of Shell to bring order to matters. Professor Olubayo Oluduro said about this:“Although Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other eight Ogonis were ostensibly charged and tried for murder, it is obvious to the world that they were actually arrested and executed for expressing their discontent with the environmental harm caused by Shell and the Government in their native Ogoniland.”383
    2. As was explained in chapter 4, the Ogoni 9 trial, which commenced 6 February 1995, was a carefully prepared show trial. The 15 suspects had, when the trial started, already been held in custody for more than eight months without official charge, although it was clear that they had been apprehended on suspicion of involvement in the murder of the four traditional Ogoni leaders on 21 May 1994. Ken Saro-Wiwa, Barinem Kiobel and Baribor Bera did not hear the official charge until 28 January 1995, while Nordu Eawo and Paul Levula received the indictment on 28 February 1995. In this period the hearings of the specially set up Ogoni Civil Disturbances Special Tribunal also started. Footage of these hearings is submitted as exhibit 247. Fragments from them can also be seen in the revealing documentary “In-Remembrance Ken Saro-Wiwa” (exhibit 252).384 The trial would last until 31 October 1995 and end with the death penalty being carried out on nine of the fifteen suspects, who were executed on 10 November 1995. The serious human rights violations to which the suspects were exposed during the trial and that ultimately led to the executions are described in chapter 4.
    1. Because it soon became clear that the suspects would not receive a fair trial and were in fact political prisoners because of their opposition to Shell, all eyes were on the company. Shell falsely claimed to be following an apolitical course whilst exerting its influence through quiet diplomacy. In reality, it was very much involved with the course of the events during the trial, and in the meantime fully dedicating itself to its negotiations with the regime regarding the NLNG project which would be settled at the same time. At no time whatsoever did Shell reveal any dissatisfaction with the course of events, not even when it sent a tepid letter to Abacha just before the execution of the Ogoni 9 with a request for a pardon, for which it had apologised to the regime in advance.385 While Nigeria had by then been internationally degenerated into a pariah state, Shell continued to collaborate with the regime just as intensively.
    2. The fact that Shell’s involvement in the trial went beyond implicit support is evident from the following facts and circumstances, which are explained below:
      •  Shell itself sent a lawyer to the trial, who kept it well informed and supported the position of the prosecutor by means of a so-called watching brief;
      •  Shell lied publicly about the role that its lawyer fulfilled at the trial;
      •  during the trial Shell maintained contacts with the judges who had been appointed to decide on the case;
      •  Shell’s lawyer was present at the bribing of witnesses who had to give incriminating statements against the “Ogoni 9”; they were offered compensation and a position at Shell;
      •  Shell’s protégé Okuntimo played a dominant role during the trial;
      •  at no time did Shell publicly or discretely distance itself from the course of events during the trial;
      • Shell kept emphasising its economic interests to the regime and during the trial negotiated with the regime regarding new projects in Nigeria. One month after the executions the large-scale National Liquid Natural Gas project was announced, by which the collaboration between the regime and Shell was extended for many years.

    8.5.2 Shell sent its lawyer to look after its interests

    281. Shell sent its own lawyer O.C.J. Okocha and his colleagues to the tribunal with a so- called ‘watching brief’. A watching brief in the Nigerian legal system is a way for a third party to keep informed of developments in proceedings in order to safeguard its direct interests in them. To this end the lawyer who has the watching brief usually works closely with the public prosecutor. Nigerian jurisprudence shows that a watching brief may be refused if a party has no interest in the trial: read more

    Shell cannot say it was not warned about Prelude FLNG

    Warning by Bill Campbell, retired HSE Group Auditor, Shell International: Hydrocarbon leaks on offshore installations are unavoidable!

    The answer to the question, can offshore installations meet a zero tolerance standard for hydrocarbon leaks, is easily answered, they cannot! Keeping hydrocarbons in the box appears beyond the wit of man. 

    The support for this rather pessimistic view is based on actual historic data from the North Sea. It should be noted that this key indicator is the number one, the foremost technical integrity measure recorded by the HSE offshore division in the UK. All operators also are required to have it as their top indicator and non-reporting of hydrocarbon leaks is an offence in Law. So there is a degree of confidence in the accuracy of this data.  read more

    Alarming news today of potential fire and explosion on Shell North Sea platform

    By John Donovan

    History is repeating itself. Shell is in the news today over its  dangerous North Sea oil platform activities.

    Nearly 20 years ago, Shell senior management ignored warnings by HSE Auditor Bill Campbell about the Touch Fuck All regime on the Brent Bravo platform and its potential impact on worker safety. Production and profits were the overriding consideration. Maintenance records were routinely falsified. Lives were put at risk.

    Shell EP MD Malcolm Brinded promised to take action based on the scandalous state of affairs Mr Campbell’s team had discovered when he led the safety audit on the platform. The promises were not kept. As a result, platform workers subsequently lost their lives in what was judged by the Scottish legal authorities to be an avoidable accident on Brent Bravo. A record-breaking fine was imposed on Shell. read more

    Kiobel Writ: Shell and the Abacha regime operated a joint intelligence service

    The extent of Shell’s infiltration of Nigerian politics later became clear from the messages from the American embassy in Nigeria published by WikiLeaks. In them Executive Vice President of Shell in Africa at the time, Ann Pickard, boasted to the American ambassador that the Nigerian government had forgotten that Shell had seconded people to every ministry in the Nigerian government and was therefore aware of everything happening there

    By John Donovan

    The numbered paragraphs below are extracted from the 138 page Esther Kiobel Writ served on multiple Royal Dutch Shell companies on 28 June 2017. More information about the latest litigation, this time in the Dutch Courts, is provided after the extracts. As can be seen in the footnotes, the allegations are supported by volumous evidence.

    Shell and the Abacha regime operated in tandem

    Extracts begin:

    8.4.4 Shell and the regime operated a joint intelligence service

    267. Together with the State Security Service (“SSS”, the national intelligence and security service) Shell maintained its own network of informants. According to George Ukpong, Shell had daily contact with the commissioner of police of Rivers State and the director of the SSS in this period.362 The SSS, according to Upkong, “is one of the security agencies rendering valuable assistance in support of SPDC security operations in the state”; the SSS “has provided assistance in meeting some of our staff training needs” and “has been of particular assistance to [Shell] in the area of crime intelligence acquisition”. read more

    Alarm Bells: Shell Hydrocarbons continue getting out the box

    ALARMING COMMENT POSTED BY RETIRED SHELL INTERNATIONAL HSE GROUP AUDITOR, BILL CAMPBELL

    Hydrocarbons continue getting out the box

    With a Fire breakout at Pernis and a leak at Singapore refinery, both incidents over the last few days, it seems loss of containment is a continuing serious issue both onshore as well as offshore.

    Much has been written about FLNG suggesting Prelude for example simply just cannot afford leaks and fires because of the potential consequences – but can they be totally avoided, can they?

    Can any offshore installation meet a zero tolerance standard for leaks? read more

    %d bloggers like this: