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Ben van Beurden will need more than PR skills to navigate Shell’s choppy seas

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 09.07.53Ben van Beurden gave a flawless performance last week as he stepped onto the public stage for the first time as chief executive of Shell and sought to explain how the company had cut its annual profits in half despite a year of sky-high oil prices. He should have been torn limb from limb, but instead City analysts were content to believe his well-spun litany of excuses, mostly blaming outside forces rather than the poor decision-making and performance of the team he now leads. …he could not entirely escape personal responsibility, since he was formerly head of chemicals and, for nine months last year, head of the group’s huge downstream division. Pet projects of Voser’s will feel the axe. Divestments will be made, spending curtailed and writedowns – multibillion-dollar ones, clearly – taken. Van Beurden knows what failure looks like, as he was a personal assistant to former chairman Sir Philip Watts when Watts was axed over the reserves scandal of 2004.

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The new boss put up a brave showing last week, but he faces a battle to stop the oil firm from sailing into more trouble

The Observer,

Ben van Beurden gave a flawless performance last week as he stepped onto the public stage for the first time as chief executive of Shell and sought to explain how the company had cut its annual profits in half despite a year of sky-high oil prices.

The Shell lifer was able to paper over the reasons for Shell’s “loss of momentum”, as he called it, through a mixture of boundless self-confidence and strong communication skills.

He should have been torn limb from limb, but instead City analysts were content to believe his well-spun litany of excuses, mostly blaming outside forces rather than the poor decision-making and performance of the team he now leads. The Shell share price has dipped a mere 3% since a profit warning two weeks ago. read more

Royal Dutch Shell leadership: Bring back Sir Henri Deterding

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 10.22.50If only it was possible to resurrect Sir Henri Deterding at his best, the extraordinary Dutchman who built the Royal Dutch Shell Group. In his first couple of decades at Shell he was a brilliant decisive leader brimming with ambition, ideas and incredible determination. He would have acted to exploit BP’s self-inflicted misfortunes, whereas Van der Veer and Voser let the opportunity pass and instead took Shell down a disastrous path placing all bets on so-called elephant projects that turned out to be white elephants.

By John Donovan

In my view, the last Shell executive director/Chairman who had any gumption and plain commonsense was Sir John Jennings.

Since his time, long term Shell shareholders have witnessed a parade of hopelessly incompetent Royal Dutch Shell fat cat bosses.

The roll call of failed leaders includes Sir Philip Watts, Jeroen van der Veer and Peter Voser.

All three mired by disappointment and scandal.

Jorma Ollila has been non-executive Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell Plc for several years spanning the tenures of the last two failed CEO’s and has proven equally uninspiring and flawed. read more

Energy giants battle to pump profits

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 07.38.22At 55, Van Beurden, who replaced Peter Voser earlier this month, is a 30-year veteran at Shell where his career has mainly been focused on managing downstream businesses such as refining and chemicals. This week, as he announces full-year earnings, City analysts expect him to unveil details of a potential $15bn to $30bn (£9.1bn to £18.1bn) garage sale… Shell has a reputation for gluttony when it comes to tackling giant energy projects, betting billions of dollars on strategic investments aimed at building reserves and capturing future demand decades in advance. Those days may be over.

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By 8:00PM GMT 25 Jan 2014

On the face of it, Royal Dutch Shell’s new chief executive, Ben van Beurden, and Bob Dudley, his counterpart at , are a world apart.

At 55, Van Beurden, who replaced Peter Voser earlier this month, is a 30-year veteran at Shell where his career has mainly been focused on managing downstream businesses such as refining and chemicals.

This week, as he announces full-year earnings, City analysts expect him to unveil details of a potential $15bn to $30bn (£9.1bn to £18.1bn) garage sale, signalling a new era of capital discipline and streamlining at the Anglo-Dutch supermajor. read more

CFO Simon Henry: Just how many lives has this Shell fat cat got?

Simon Henry was CFO when the ship was set on its disastrous course of over-promise and under-delivery, beset by project delays and cost overruns, resulting in the recent profits warning and the dramatic advice just issued by Zacks Investment Research that Royal Dutch Shell Plc is “a risky bet that ordinary investors should exit.” He has had a hand on the helm throughout the long voyage, during the Sakhalin2 debacle, the Corrib Gas Corruption scandal and more recently, Shell’s Arctic ambitions hitting the rocks. As I have previously pointed out, he also had a starring role in the reserves scandal and managed to evade the flak on that occasion as well. Just how many lives has this Shell fat cat got?

By John Donovan

The role of RDS Chief Financial Officer, Simon Henry, in the instability that has overtaken Shell, thus far seems to have largely escaped scrutiny and blame?

He is the most senior remaining Royal Dutch Shell executive spanning the tenure of the last three top executives at Shell, Sir Philip Watts (dishonest bullying egomaniac), Jeroen van der Veer (dishonest and out of his depth) and Peter Voser (incompetent and ill-advised).

Simon Henry was CFO when the ship was set on its disastrous course of over-promise and under-delivery, bedeviled by project delays and cost overruns, resulting in the recent profits warning and the dramatic advice just issued by Zacks Investment Research that Royal Dutch Shell Plc is “a risky bet that ordinary investors should exit.” read more

10th ANNIVERSARY OF ROYAL DUTCH SHELL RESERVES SCANDAL

Since Royal Dutch Shell has apparently forgotten to mark the tenth anniversary of news breaking on 10 January 2004, that Shell had cooked its books by wildly inflating its claimed oil and gas reserves, it seems appropriate for me to do so on Shell’s behalf. The then Shell Group chairman, Sir Philip Watts was forced to resign, but to buy his silence was handsomely  rewarded for screwing Shell shareholders, receiving a financial package reportedly worth $18.5 million. He later repented his sins and became a priest. His chief of Exploration & Production, Walter van de Vijver was knifed in the back by his director colleagues, including John Hofmiester and Jeroen van der Veer, in what can fairly be described as a sadistic sacking. Plenty of scope and evidence if Martin Scorsese is planning a follow-up movie to The Wolf of Wall Street featuring another huge scam involving outlandish but real events and overpaid, ethically challenged individuals, driven by ego and unbridled greed.

By John Donovan

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 08.41.45Since Royal Dutch Shell has apparently forgotten to mark the tenth anniversary of news breaking on 10 January 2004, that Shell had cooked its books by wildly inflating its claimed oil and gas reserves, it seems appropriate for me to do so on Shell’s behalf.

The then Shell Group chairman, Sir Philip Watts was forced to resign, but to buy his silence was handsomely  rewarded for screwing Shell shareholders, receiving a financial package reportedly worth $18.5 million. He later repented his sins and became a priest. His chief of Exploration & Production, Walter van de Vijver was knifed in the back by his director colleagues, including John Hofmiester and Jeroen van der Veer, in what can fairly be described as a sadistic sacking.
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Shell CEO Peter Voser: Did he jump or was he pushed?

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 11.51.16Why would the issue of payment for loss of office even arise? Perhaps I am wrong but I am left with the impression that his early departure was by mutual consent and on the basis of no compensation for loss of office? In other words the board wanted him to leave early and he agreed?

By John Donovan

I was intrigued by the inclusion of the following statement by Shell in the Remuneration Disclosure for Peter Voser published earlier today:

Payment for loss of office
No payment for loss of office is made or will be made to Peter Voser.”

Consequently I sent the following email to a source with Shell insider knowledge:

Wording seems odd to me?

Why would the issue of payment for loss of office even arise?

Perhaps I am wrong but I am left with the impression that his early departure was by mutual consent and on the basis of no compensation for loss of office? read more

Shell ‘is getting far too Dutch’

Screen Shot 2013-12-21 at 00.36.50A senior executive at a leading City institution, who asked not to be named, said British investors were not being treated on a par with their Dutch counterparts. He said this was symptomatic of a trend that has seen the company increasingly consolidating power in The Hague and forgetting its British heritage. The oil giant last year scrapped a London event that featured a live TV link-up to its annual meeting in The Hague, sparking outrage among investors.

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Screen Shot 2013-12-21 at 00.26.46By Rob Davies: 

Shell is coming under growing pressure from shareholders to hold every other annual meeting in London, with one major investor warning that the firm is becoming ‘too Dutch’.

A senior executive at a leading City institution, who asked not to be named, said British investors were not being treated on a par with their Dutch counterparts.

He said this was symptomatic of a trend that has seen the company increasingly consolidating power in The Hague and forgetting its British heritage. read more

Shell: New Boss required but limited choices

Screen Shot 2012-09-19 at 09.13.48As for Commander Odum, he of the theatre of Operations, only a marine incident etc school he was doomed not by the grounding of the good ship Kulluk, but in the lie telling that followed.  It was not I fear just poor Lawrence of Alaska who suffered from this misadventure. 

COMMENT RECEIVED FROM BILL CAMPBELL, RETIRED HSE GROUP AUDITOR, SHELL INTERNATIONAL:

Dear John

It was not a surprise to me that Simon Henry was not in the running, the Head Shed watchers of this website would have realised that he carried heavy baggage from the reserves affair, also Shell does not appreciate the washing of its dirty linen in public, the stories for example from the lips of Simon that Pastor Phil (did he have an out of spacesuit experience when he passed through the heavenly layer on his way back to ground at Maastricht and was thus converted) was carrying a huge chip on his shoulder because he was not an Oxbridge man, who knows.  Henry, as the Bedouin are fond of saying say, was outside the tent pissing in, an unforgivable sin. read more

Shell’s new CEO reinforces gas technology focus

 Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 00.09.36…van Beurden is from the downstream part of the business which wrested control from the upstream oil and gas division in the aftermath of Shell’s reserves accounting crisis of 2003/2004. A chemical engineering graduate, van Beurden had a front seat for the crisis, in which the company was forced to downgrade its oil and gas reserves that top executives had over-estimated for years. He worked between 2002 and 2004 as management assistant to Phil Watts, the head of company who was sacked in the aftermath of the debacle in 2004.

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LONDON | Tue Jul 9, 2013 9:38am EDT

(Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) named refining head Ben van Beurden as its new chief executive, picking a man with little board-level experience but broad company exposure and first-hand knowledge of the gas technology it has bet its future on.

Van Beurden, who became head of refining, marketing and chemicals in January, has been at the Anglo-Dutch group for 30 years and spent a decade in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry. read more

In the new Shell to lie is acceptable unless your found out

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Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 23.30.59The crisis in my book, and we are far from the endpoint in this, is that RDS officials lied in that the decision to move Kulluk was not related to tax avoidance when it was.  Perhaps that is why the RDS CEO has taken a closer interest in his family and the sustainability of his future.

ARTICLE BY BILL CAMPBELL, RETIRED HSE GROUP AUDITOR, SHELL INTERNATIONAL

In the new Shell, that which developed in the days of post transformation, group dancing in that nice hotel near the Het Loo Palace, with the dear leader Watts arriving from space etc around the same time, who can forget those heady days.  Is that when to lie and deceive became the norm in the head sheds of The Hague. Is that when the growth of VP’s started, not the Joe Biden variety, the Shell model, we currently appear to have more VP’s than indian meals sold in Bradford on a Friday night. read more

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. read more

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. read more

THE RACE FOR VOSERS JOB

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 09.48.24With regard to your most obvious rivals, Simon Henry seems to be a very intelligent, competent executive, but comes with the baggage of his starring role in the reserves scandal. I published our verdict. Based on my strange experience of communicating with Marvin Odum via RDS Plc Company Secretary Michiel Brandjes, I reached the conclusion that Mr Odum is a creep. As the New York Times has correctly speculated, he carries “the stigma of the Alaska debacle.”

Email to Royal Dutch Shell Upstream International Director Andrew Brown

From: John Donovan <[email protected]>
Subject: THE RACE FOR VOSERS JOB
Date: 3 May 2013 09:54:33 GMT+01:00
To: [email protected]

Dear Mr Brown

As you may recall, we published a leaked email from you minutes after you sent it, the content of which, with my normal lack of tact, I described as drivel.

According to press reports you are a candidate in the race for Peter Vosers job, along with Simon Henry and Marvin Odum.

Perhaps I have read too many gossip columns, but I find the carefully constructed formulation of the resignation quote attributed to Mr Voser rather odd. read more

Briton tipped to run Shell for first time in a decade as Voser steps down into retirement

Chief financial officer Simon Henry was made the front-runner by bookmaker Paddy Power, despite saying it would be ‘inappropriate’ to discuss his candidacy. The Anglo-Dutch firm has not had a British boss since Sir Philip Watts left in disgrace in 2004 after Shell overstated its oil reserves.

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Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 08.17.32By Rob Davies: PUBLISHED: 22:14, 2 May 2013 | UPDATED: 22:30, 2 May 2013

Shell boss Peter Voser has announced his retirement at 55, sparking a succession race that could put a Briton in charge of Europe’s largest oil firm for the first time in nearly a decade.

Chief financial officer Simon Henry was made the front-runner by bookmaker Paddy Power, despite saying it would be ‘inappropriate’ to discuss his candidacy.

Centrica chief Sam Laidlaw is also in the frame, alongside a host of Shell ‘lifers’ in various executive positions.

The Anglo-Dutch firm has not had a British boss since Sir Philip Watts left in disgrace in 2004 after Shell overstated its oil reserves. read more

Shell Lent Former Directors $12M For Reserves Fraud Legal Costs In 2004

By John Donovan: As can be verified from page 81 of the Shell Form 20F 2004 filing with the US Securities & Exchange Commission and a related Wall Street Journal article, Shell lent the fraudsters responsible for the reserves scandal $12 million to cover litigation costs. Almost a decade later, I have not seen any evidence that any of the money was ever repaid? Perhaps the Rev. Sir Philip Watts, or Simon Henry, the current Royal Dutch Shell CFO, who played a starring role in the scandal, can enlighten us?

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Extract from Page 81

Over the year 2004, the Group advanced a total of $12,048,441 (certain amounts have been converted at the average £/$ exchange rate for 2004) for litigation costs for former Board members under these provisions.

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Shell Lent Former Directors $12M For Legal Costs In 04

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES March 31, 2005

LONDON — Royal Dutch/Shell (RD,SC) said in a filing released Thursday it was in settlement talks on some of the class action litigation unleashed after it was forced to reclassify its oil reserves.

In a 20-F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the oil giant said it was in talks with holders of various Shell Oil Company pension plans which had been launched in the U.S. under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. read more

Shell buys Brinded’s silence in golden good riddance

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 16.08.38In addition to the £2.9m for his Netherlands home, “Brinded, 60 tomorrow, pocketed £2.7 in salary and severance for the four months he worked last year. He also walked away with £9.7m in shares and a £19m pension pot.” So, with wonderful timing, Brinded received a package worth £34.3 million as a spectacular birthday present.

By John Donovan

The Sunday Times published an article today by Danny Fortson on the front page of its business section, under the headline: Shell buys chief’s £2.9m home in golden goodbye

I believe our headline is more accurate.

The sacked “Chief” who is the beneficiary of Shell’s immense generosity with shareholders money is Malcolm Brinded, forever associated with Shell’s notorious “Touch Fuck All” approach to its North Sea Platforms and the safety of its offshore workers. read more

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