Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image

HULIQ, NC: Breaking News: Royal Dutch Shell Executive disgraced in plagiarism scandal

David Greer, Shell Deputy Chief Executive of the $22 billion Sakhalin-2 project in Russia is exposed as a plagiarist after circulating a motivational memo containing inspirational passages borrowed liberally from a speech made by U.S. General George S Patton over 60 years ago


Last Monday, 4 June 2007, David Greer, the Deputy Chief Executive of Sakhalin Energy Investment Company thought he was starting just another routine week in his high flying life. He could not has guessed that within days he would end up as the subject of a front page stories on The Financial Times and The Moscow Times exposing him as a blatant plagiarist.

In April 2007 Greer sent a motivational email to senior employees working on the $22 billion plus Sakhalin-2 project in Russia, the biggest energy project of its kind in the world. Both news organisations revealed that the email meant solely for internal consumption had been leaked to an “anti-Shell” website which the FT stated “has long been a thorn in Shell’s side”.

The co-owner of the website, John Donovan supplied both newspapers with the leaked email and other information which contained allegations of corrupt practices involving Greer and the awarding of contracts to Russian companies. Oleg Mitvol, the deputy chief of Rosprirodnadzor, the Russian environmental agency, had previously credited John Donovan as being the source of leaked documents on which he had based a $5 billion claim against Shell for environmental damage incurred during the project pipeline construction. Mitvol sent the evidence to Sakhalin Energy CEO Ian Craig, asking him either to confirm or deny information contained in confidential e-mails from then Shell natural gas field manager Hans Bouman to Sakhalin Energy technical director Engel Van Spronsen, now retired.

The documentary evidence of a cover-up by Shell was subsequently used by the Russian government to force Shell into surrendering its ownership of the Sakhalin-2 project to Gazprom. The leaked internal emails between senior Shell managers, cost Shell at least $11 billion dollars in lost reserves when the transfer to Gazprom took place. President Putin referred to the evidence earlier this week. In a related exchange with Royal Dutch Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer reported in The Washington Post today, when asked by Van der Veer what the rules of the game were in Russia, Putin replied saying that the rules of the game were very simple: honesty.

The David Greer motivational email was designed to restore employee morale after the sudden change in ownership in such unusual circumstances. The content of the email stood out because of the exceptionally stirring phrases which seemed more suited to a military setting.

The Financial Times published a front page story, ironically on D-Day 6 June, under the headline: ”‘Pipeliners All!’ memo urges Shell workers to bounce off the bottom”. The article quoted at length from the memo, including the phrase “Lead me. Follow me or Get out of my way”. It said that Mr Greer had witnessed comments and body language that suggest a group that “doesn’t want to fight and lacks confidence in its own ability”. An article was also published on the Donovan website. The FT reported that Shell had confirmed the email was genuine. John Donovan had obtained prior confirmation from Keith Ruddock, General Counsel of Shell Exploration & Production, Shell International B.V.

The FT published the entire email in a separate article and also conducted an online poll on asking the question: “Is this the worst ever motivational memo?”

Unfortunately for Mr Greer, a number of people spotted that the Greer email contained many passages taken from a speech made by the legendary U.S. General George S Patton on the eve of D-Day 1944.

On 7 June, the Financial Times published a quarter page follow-up article headlined: “Sakhalin motivational memo borrows heavily from Patton”. Two photographs were displayed side-by-side of General Patton and David Greer. Under each photograph quotes were compared from the Patton speech and the Greer memo. The first quote from Patton stated: “When you, here, everyone of you, were kids, you all admired the champion marble player, the fastest runner, the toughest boxer, the big league ball players, and the All-American football players.” The comparison quote from Greer stated: “When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble player, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers.” The FT article recalled the saying “Talent borrows, genius steals”. It gave another example of the blatant plagiarism saying: “Mr Greer’s declaration that ‘I despise cowards and play to win all the time’ is almost straight from the Patton script”.

The week concluded with The Moscow Times publishing on Saturday a front page article under the heading: Sakhalin Pep Talk From ‘Old Blood and Guts’. Their article ridiculed Greer by saying : In substituting “pipeliners and engineers” for Patton’s “American he-men” heroes Greer’s memo reads more like a cross with a pep talk by David Brent, the haplessly self-deluding boss from the BBC’s television comedy show “The Office.’”

The Moscow Times attempted without success to make contact with David Greer and with recipients of the email, who either claimed they had not seen it or were unwilling to comment. They did manage to interview Oleg Mitvol who was quoted as saying “Greer’s bombastic memo had made him laugh” and that “It was very much in Sakhalin Energy’s style and highlighted the cause of the project’s troubles”. The quote attributed to Mitvol continued: “Everyone thought that the problems with the pipeline on Sakhalin were all because of me, but now from this text you can see that the problems have to do with Sakhalin Energy and some of their managers.”

The top management of Royal Dutch Shell is now placed in an invidious position. Greer’s act of plagiarism is directly in breach of Shell’s own ethical code, the Statement of General Business Principles pledging honesty, integrity and transparency in all Shell dealings. Greer’s conduct has embarrassed Shell and put a further strain on the already sensitive relationship with its new partner, Gazprom and its ultimate boss, Vladimir Putin, who has already ruthlessly exploited Shell management’s earlier mendacity when Shell still had control over the Sakhalin-2 project. Eric Arkesteijn of Sakhalin Energy has already speculated that the email was in fact leaked by Gazprom.

Mitvol has already confirmed the involvement of Russian “special services” to establish authenticity of leaked documents supplied by Donovan. “As yet, the company did not know who had leaked the e-mail” said SEIC spokesperson Ivan Chernakhovsky somewhat ominously to The Moscow Times.

Shell’s own formidable in-house security arm headed by Ian Forbes McCredie OBE, a former senior MI6 officer, will be involved in the hunt to try to identify Donovan’s sources. Russian contractors named in the leaked information are also likely to be interested in developments.

The future for Greer and Shell’s continued participation in the Sakhalin project in any event looks bleak and likely to be mired in further intrigue.

Submitted by johnadonovan on Sun, 2007-06-10 18:04.

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

One Comment

  1. punselie says:

    What’s wrong with quoting somebodies words? Nothing wrong with that albeit used with bad taste.

    The future for Greer and Shell’s continued participation in the Sakhalin project in any event looks bleak and likely to be mired in further intrigue.

    Thats a crap sentence not based on any facts either.

    Don’t mind a bit of healthy criticism but looks like this is a mud strowing campaign with what purpose?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.