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The Wall Street Journal: Shell’s Safety Problem

March 15, 2007, 5:56 pm

Posted by Staff

BP has been criticized for its safety standards since the deadly Texas City refinery explosion in 2005. But Royal Dutch Shell was a far more dangerous company to work for in the past two years.

Thirty-seven Shell employees and contractors died last year, the company reported in its annual filing with the SEC yesterday, compared with just seven BP employees. In 2005, 36 Shell employees died, compared with 27 BP employees. BP had about 97,000 employees at the end of 2006, compared with 108,000 for Shell.

“Our safety performance in 2006 was mixed,” CEO Jeroen van der Veer said in the filing. “We have responded by reinforcing our safety focus through a dedicated global safety function that will improve compliance with standards and procedures worldwide.” The company says it has created a new position, a global vice-president for health, safety and environment. Its safety record was reported yesterday by the Financial Times (subscription required).

According to the filing, nine of Shell’s deaths last year were due to kidnappings and assaults in Nigeria. Eight other Shell workers died of other causes in Nigeria, the company’s most dangerous locale.

As Energy Roundup noted yesterday, van der Veer got a raise last year, unlike Lord Browne. As the Financial Times has noted (subscription required), one reason for Lord Browne’s pay cut was BP’s safety record.

– Mark Gongloff

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