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Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com: Unofficial transcript of BBC Radio – Brent Bravo/Bill Campbell interview

Posted online 6th July 2006

BBC Radio: Shell ‘ignored accident warning’

14 June 2006 Broadcast

A senior maintenance engineer criticises Shell for ignoring a safety review which might have saved the lives of two oil workers.

BBC Narrator:

With over 25 years experience in the oil industry Bill Campbell was one of Shell’s senior maintenance engineers.

In 1999 he was asked to lead a safety review of seven Shell platforms in the North Sea including Brent Bravo.

What he found left him with a sense of impending doom.

Bill Campbell:

The platforms were operating Brent Bravo specifically was operating with dangerously high levels of risk. The implication of that is a major accident event will happen…

it is just a matter of what were the consequences of that… accident are…

Someone was going to get it… it was just a matter of time

BBC Narrator:

Bill Campbell had discovered a culture where safety procedures were being broken or ignored.

Vital maintenance work wasn’t being done in case production had to be halted

And rig managers were lying to cover it up

One example on Brent Bravo were the emergency shutdown valves…

There vital in stopping large amounts of oil and gas feeding a leak or fire…

Bill Campbell:

In some cases the valves were not closing but the test records historic data for this valve showed “no fault found”

And they accepted that they were purposely falsifying that…

The reasons they were doing that of course there would have had to shut down to repair these valves and they would have lost considerable product…

So here was an example of production very much dominating safety…

BBC Narrator:

He concluded the risks on the Brent Bravo platform in particular were unacceptable but he says senior Shell executives ignored the vast majority of his recommendations and as a result two men died.

The accident Bill Campbell had predicated happened on September 11th 2003… four years after his original report

Keith Moncrieff from Dundee and Sean McCue from Fife were killed by a gas leak

Safety expert Professor Colin McFarland from Strathclyde University…

Professor McFarland:

Bill Campbell identified faults and made it plain to the management at Shell at that time that these things were wrong and dangerous…

He said they were very dangerous…

He predicated an accident would happen…

And it did happen in 2003

If Shell in 1999 had listened to what he said and taken action then… then the two guys wouldn’t have died…

BBC Narrator:

which is shocking news for Jacque Ogilvie. She lived with Keith Moncrieff for six years… the couple were going to get married.

Jacqueline Ogilvie:

I just feel so angry. Why did you not take action then?  Why did you not repair the rig? For them to know this and not take action… He could have been still alive and Sean could still have been alive… And this has to be fixed still… This has… something has to happen to get these rigs made safe for all the men working there… It has to happen.

BBC Narrator:

Jacque’s outrage is shared by Jim McDonald. He’s a safety representative on Brent Bravo and was working on the platform at the time of the double fatality in 2003. But he knew nothing about the warning in Bill Campbell’s 1999 report until we showed in to him.

Jim McDonald: 

I quite frankly was stunned… shocked erm when I read some of the detail in there…

As a safety rep I er I like to think I am playing a role in safety.. I’m to the fore as it were.. and I was completely totally unaware of the content of this report er working with mangers out there you believe you’ve developed a relationship with them.. there’s a rapport there.. people are being honest and er having read that.. I feel deceived

BBC Narrator:

and how does Shell respond to all this…

Company executives did not want to be interviewed…

A statement said they had listened to Bill Campbell in 1999 and there had been a vigorous and significant response to the safety review including a detailed improvement plan and progress reviewed by senior management…

Shell added that since the deaths in 2003 there’ve introduced new maintenance systems that are vigorous and transparent

Transcript ends

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