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Blunt comments from Shell insiders on the thousands of jobs being slashed at Shell

Published 29 December 2007



I write this note to you as a very concerned ‘insider’. It appears Shell has not learned from the past and now is embarking on yet another stepchange (note very carefully the word change, not improvement) by getting rid of the bulk of  IT people. They are also divesting several producing fields. (Those are riskfree things that  need to be milked. It is like a farmer selling his farm whereas he really should sell the produce!)  Is Shell perhaps preparing itself for a take-over by Gazprom?

On the IT reorganisation: it has been decided to shed the bulk of the staff in IT and only keep people from a certain senior jobgroup level upwards. That level means they have already lost touch with technology and are mere administrative department heads etc. This means all real expertise will be lost. And a few years ago someone clever in Philips NV stated: ‘if you cannot make it anymore, you also cannot manage it’. And here is the crux of the disaster which is certain to follow. On paper it looks fine, reducing costs and letting the real experts do the work. But the handing over of Shell staff to IT companies will be extremely costly because all kind of securities for the staff are built in. Some 15 years ago NAM sent all their drilling staff to Deutag because there they would be better off. NAM only kept the drilling engineers. To cut a long story short: after a few years NAM took all these drillers back at vast expense. They all found it too cold outside the warm blankets of Shell…. Everyone had been unhappy during the whole period and performance had gone down the drain. The amount of management time it took must have been enormous.

The same is bound to happen with IT. Obviously one should contract out all the standard Bill Gates stuff on the PCs, but that is only a small part of the IT in Shell. Development of new technologies will stop in Shell and they become dependent on others. The good people are already fixing jobs for themselves but wait a little so they score the big redundancy bonus and then go work somewhere else. IT nerds are just like people!!!

Various technologies will be at different contractors: first line is now in Bangalore, but that is only for the most simple stuff and there is great irritation at dealing with Indians who speak poor english and have zero authority and little know-how and experience. The second line is also in India with Wipro. The third line is yet again somewhere else, telecom with BT etc etc. All these should work together on issues and on paper this will be done with the famous Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Bureaucratic nightmares and licences to print money for the contractors.  It now is already difficult to have the various technologies work together when they share offices on the same floor and know each other personally. So the mind boggles what will happen when they are strangers on different continents. The salaries in India are increasing sharply so in order to keep the costs low, the level of service will reduce, whatever managers in Shell want or get promised. I am convinced this is a cheap way to make a career for a few people in Shell and the ‘unintended consequences’ will be for someone else to sort out. The people who outsourced the first and second line to India etc., all have left now with bonuses and promotions but many customers don’t want to speak with the call centres anymore.

The upcoming contract will be horrendously expensive to Shell because all the job securities for Shell staff need to be paid for by someone. Else those staff will not go ‘voluntarily’. I believe many still have the right to apply for jobs within Shell for 5 years. That is not a way to make a clean cut. It is muddling on and moving problems to the future.

So, mark my words, the IT within Shell will quickly go down the drain, there will be some real problems and IT development will stop. Whatever Jeroen may say about keeping and growing worldclass expertise!

And of late there is the announcement that Finance will start to shed staff. It reeks of Voser doing a Watts to the outside world. IT shedding staff, then I will also shed more staff and cut costs. He must be manoeuvring to get in line to replace Jeroen. Nice guy, quite competent, but a real Oilcompany needs an Oilman, not a banker. I thought we had learned with Herkstroter. But memories are short.

So, soon we may have a Finnish telephone maker chairing a business run by a Swiss banker and supported by a HR man. And these people need to ensure that the correct investment decisions are taken in this very tough world of Oil and Gas?  They only make it easier for Gazprom to shed the top and keep the engineers.

Perhaps you see merit in publishing this.



For Streamline Project see:
“More upstream and profitable downstream”
We as employees read it: … *only profitable* downstream.
But where do we have left a real profitable downstream??
So, what will be left besides upstream?
Outsourced, outplaced and francised downstream?

 >>> Managed by 3-5 Shell shared service centers worldwide?

Seems, we will go this way…
All IT infrastructure a Shell is on change now to one global structure.
What for?
For handing it over to 3rd party service, as we can read at your site…

a Shellist and its also non-profit sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

1 Comment on “Blunt comments from Shell insiders on the thousands of jobs being slashed at Shell”

  1. #1 James Mc Quillan
    on Dec 30th, 2007 at 09:34

    Big Mamma seems to be trying to rewrite history. This will not be the biggest reduction in staff. What happened in the early 90’s was a bloodbath that left thousands of “former” employees very disgruntled to say the least. i made it thru that only to be the victim of a reduction in staff in 2001. My section was declared redundent and the efforts of the company to place the staff was only lip service.

    Granted it was only a small group of people but those of us that were declared redundent were given little help in finding positions within the company or anywhere else.

    It looks like they are going to do this again only on a grander scale.

    Former U.S. Shell employee

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