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Aberdeen Press and Journal: CRINE AT ROOT OF MANY PROBLEMS: ‘Highlighting the role of whistle-blower Bill Campbell in the Shell debacle…’

12:53 – 05 November 2007

Many of today’s North Sea leaders cut their teeth during the cost-reduction drives of the mid to late-1990s under the CRINE and CRINE Network issues. This was a period where there was ruthless emphasis on slashing capital costs, with scant regard for long-term operational efficiency of installations.

The culture engendered by these initiatives was very alive in 2000 and echoes even today. The industry is paying the price of CRINE, as far as Whewell is concerned.

“It’s since around 2000 that we recognised the need to focus the industry on major hazard risks,” he says.

“We had concerns that, even without seeing the smoke at that stage, the whole cost-reduction era was having an impact.

“CRINE issues are with us now. There is a remarkable coincidence that a number of CRINE-era installations are the ones we are having issues with now. I’m not saying everything about CRINE was wrong. But there were short-termism elements in it.”

Though Whewell declined to name any, platforms dating from the CRINE era include Andrew, Harding, Piper B, Scott, Alba and Britannia.

However, he pointed out that, in 2000, HSE did take action by setting in place a process integrity programme that ran for three-four years, looking at the way process plant was being managed. It was particularly focusing on trying to reduce hydrocarbon leaks.

As for Shell with its pre-CRINE Brent problems, again Whewell was reluctant to get specific. However, he says that Shell has acknowledged that it took its eye off the ball, but now has a huge programme to upgrade installations and bring them back to the point where they should have been had the company continued to apply steady maintenance.

Highlighting the role of whistle-blower Bill Campbell in the Shell debacle – he ended up being fired – Whewell has made use of his specialist knowledge.

“The crux of the Campbell-Shell battle is that he was an auditor, he carried out an audit for Shell (Brent) and the company didn’t take proper note of the findings of the audit as far as Campbell was concerned. While I don’t want to get involved with that, what Shell has done is look very closely at its business… systems, plant on the ground and so forth.”

On Campbell, he says: “We’ve had two meetings with him… not to talk about Shell per se, but to seek his practical advice on how we can penetrate audit systems more effectively.”

Surely one of the ironies is that some of the implementations that might result from the Campbell dialogue may be applied to Shell itself – and, of course, other companies.

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