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Third round of correspondence with Tim Newman (the one who has no connection with Shell)

From Tim Newman

Firstly, I took issue with your comment that:

Sakhalin II costs doubled to an admitted $20 billion, thereby ruining Shell’s reputation for competent project management.

The fact remains that Shell’s reputation for competent project management does not lie in ruins, and were a poll run across the oil and gas industry tomorrow it would reveal that despite the Sakhalin II project, Shell is still regarded as one of the most competent OPCOs in the world. This is not to say that Shell’s reputation and credibility has not been damaged to some extent, perhaps to a great extent, as a result of their management of the Sakhalin II project, and I have at no point claimed this. The sources you link to simply confirm that Shell’s reputation has been damaged; in none of them does it say that Shell’s reputation lies in ruins.

Secondly, I did not feel embarrassed that you think I work for Shell, but I do take serious issue with the way you dealt with my comment. Rather than responding to it in a polite and gentlemanly way, which you finally got round to in this post, you instead searched through the net, got hold of my picture, stuck my head on a pole and shouted “Yeehaw boys! We bagged ourselves a Shell employee!”. Your post was nothing more than an unmasking session, although for what purpose is unclear. Had I been the Tim Newman who works for Shell, I could be looking at facing serious disciplinary action from my superiors because you have interpretted my personal comments as being representative of the company, something which even most amateur bloggers long ago learned to distinguish between.

I think this episode should serve as a lesson to any Shell employee foolish enough to consider posting a comment on this site and using their real name, as you clearly are more interested in scoring points against Shell – even at the expense of one of their unsuspecting employees – than engaging in a meaningful discussion with oil and gas professionals on the issues of the Sakahlin II project.

Tim Newman

  • 2. January 8th, 2007 17:58
  • Below is an email I sent to you at the time of posting the original article. It was sent to your ‘[email protected]’ blog address. As you can see it was perfectly polite.

    Hello Tim

    We have added your photograph and blog address to the article…

    assuming that this was a comment made by you.

    If you would like to write an article giving your own view of Shell’s Sakhalin II situation perhaps taking detailed issue with our articles on the subject, we would be happy to publish on an unedited basis. We want to present all sides of the debate.

    If the comment was not made by you, please let me know and I will immediately remove your photograph and blog address.

    John Donovan

    Email ends

    I made enquiries and confirmed that a Tim Newman worked at Shell/Sakhalin. It seemed reasonable given your interest in the project that it was you, but I sent the email just in case.

    Returning to the issue you raised, Jeroen van der Veer acknowledged over a year ago the damage to Shell’s reputation for project management arising mainly from Sakhalin II. What we are left debating is the degree of damage, which must be a matter of opinion. I contend that it has been ruined, as things have only deteriorated since July 2005 with more recent admissions culminating in the current debacle. You take a different view.

    There is not much more that can be said.

    If you would like me to publish this exchange as an article please let me know and I will happily do so tomorrow. (It is a few minutes to midnight here in the UK)

    John Donovan

  • Royal Dutch Shell

    (I decided to publish this correspondence as it only seemed fair to give it the same prominence as the earlier exchanges – I will leave it to readers to make their own judgement on the various points made by Mr Newman)

  • and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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