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Further ‘Live Chat’ discussion on Shell in Nigeria: updated

By John Donovan

A guest on Live Chat has taken issue with the content of my recent article…

26/02/2008  Shell’s atrocious track record in Nigeria

The allegations in my article were made by independent reputable sources with verification links provided. The article included a link to a leaked Shell internal report, the contents of which were commented upon in the cited news media reports. They also commented on the admissions made in the report.

I have not visited or lived in Nigeria and have no ambition to do so. I do not accept that anyone is disqualified from giving an opinion on the issues being discussed unless they have lived in or visited Nigeria. Neither do I accept that someone who has lived in Nigeria will automatically provide a more informed impartial opinion on relevant issues.

In the case of guest 2800/2133, based on your past postings, I do respect what you have to say and believe that you are a person of integrity who speaks with experience and *authority on Shell matters including Nigeria. I also accept that there is endemic corruption in Nigeria and that oil companies including Shell have been faced with the choice of accommodating corrupt politicians and officials, or relinquishing operations in the country.
My objection is that Shell tries to pretend that it puts its principles before profits when in reality it operates on exactly the opposite basis. Shell wants to attract ethical investors and build confidence in its business values by promoting the SGBP pledging honesty, integrity, transparency in all of its dealings. At the same time Shell continues to act like a ruthless oil giant having to compete out of necessity with other equally ruthless rivals.

There is a dark sinister side to Shell which I have witnessed at first hand. I refer to its admitted use of undercover agents in Nigeria and elsewhere.

Shell executives are indemnified and end up with multi-million payoffs even if caught lying and cheating Shell investors e.g. Sir Philip Watts. That is morally indefensible.
In my experience cover-up is preferred to honesty and openness by Shell executives and Shell shareholders are treated with absolute distain.

Shell cannot have it both ways. While Shell senior executives continue to preach high ethical values while engaging in fraud, theft, corrupt practices and a flawed safety culture, people like Bill Campbell, Paddy Briggs, Dr John Huong and me will continue to point out the vast credibility gap, particularly if we are victims of what amounts to a confidence trick: the SGBP. 

*I accept that you are not employed directly by Shell or any firm working for Shell. I assume that you are a former high level Shell employee or a family member of a current or former Shell employee. However, irrespective of your background, your comments on Live Chat are very welcome and provide balance.   

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