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Daily Mail: Shell on back foot as ‘gripe site’ alleges safety concerns

By Sam Fleming
City & Finance
Page 100 Saturday, September 1, 2007

ROYAL Dutch Shell is getting rattled by a ‘gripe site’ that alleges there are safety problems with its North Sea oil platforms.

An internal Shell email admits the firm has been thrown ‘on the back foot’ because of claims put forward on the website.

John Donovan, who established the site with his father Alfred, has teamed up with former Shell employee Bill Campbell to highlight North Sea maintenance worries.

In recent weeks Campbell has emailed hundreds of MPs alleging Shell hasn’t yet properly tackled health and safety failings. Shell’s email, which was written in March, highlights that it needs to make sure it is ‘on solid ground’ when trying to stop negative publicity.

And it appears to acknowledge there could still be issues at its North Sea installations.

‘Do we fully understand our own position. Are there on-going issues that we need to know about/fix,’ asks the memo.

Shell was lashed for its safety record following two deaths at its Brent Bravo platform in 2003.

A Shell spokesman said:

‘Safety is Shell’s foremost priority at all times. Shell strongly disputes any suggestion that we would compromise safety offshore. No fatalities are acceptable.’

The site has served as a forum for disgruntled current and ex-employees and campaigners.

Shell has sought to wrest the domain name away from Donovan, but the site remains active.

The spokesman added:

‘Although Shell disagrees fundamentally with the factual basis and interpretation of much of the information on which the Donovans base their various allegations, the company has always refrained from commenting on specific issues raised by the Donovans and will continue to do so.’

The Shell emails admitting the firm’s concern at the claims

“As it stands we’re on the back foot and our aim should be to develop a strategy (or options) that puts us in a more positive and secure position.”

“Do we fully understand our own position. Are there on-going issues that we need to know about/fix. Ensure we are on solid ground. Are we making the most of what we’ve got.”

Read more on Shell at


The letter sent to MP’s by Mr Bill Campbell, former Group Auditor of Shell International:

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

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