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The giant oil field sold for a song by Shell

Financial Times: Pioneer will be closely watched as it ventures into true frontier

By Ed Crooks

Published: January 5 2010 02:00 | Last updated: January 5 2010 02:00

Cairn Energy made its name spotting an opportunity that large oil companies had missed. Its giant fields in Rajasthan, in north-west India, which came into production last year, had been rejected as unpromising by Royal Dutch Shell.

Now Cairn, valued at just under £5bn, is aiming to repeat the trick in Greenland.

Not wanting to be caught out again, many of the world’s biggest oil companies, including ExxonMobil and Chevron of the US and Statoil of Norway, are following close behind.



But the disposal programme has also had the effect of highlighting some gaffes – the major discoveries in Rajasthan which have propelled Cairn Energy into the FTSE 100 index were found on acreage sold for a song by Shell.

Shell then sold its 50% share to Cairn for $7.5 million

‘Rajasthan oil find looked like West Texas’

Its most lucrative decision was to prospect in the Rajasthan region in the north-west of India. Drilling a desert prospect sold for a song by accident-prone Royal Dutch Shell yielded Cairn one of the country’s largest-ever finds and catapulted it into the FTSE 100.


Mahdi Hassan:

Bichsel’s video is a joke! The man has never managed a project in his life. Seems like he swallowed a lexicon though! What a crock of techno-bs from the Swiss gnome!


The decision to sell the Rajahstan oil field in India rests totally with Alan Parsley and Tony Wildig. The former as head of exploration had no balls to take risk even though the geophysics was brilliant. Wildig as a petroleum engineer hadn’t got a clue and hadn’t the courage to defend explrers on the ground who wanted to keep the field. Wildig was one of the most slippery characters you could ever meet in Shell – totally untrustworthy and unsupportive.


Musaint – sorry, wrong; the decision was made by Bichsel; Parsley was gone from the scene by then. The You Yube video featuring Bichsel probably reflects why the decision was made. When you come across as so unbelievably uninspiring there is a fair chance you will make incredibly uninspiring decisions. It is a long time since such a bad advertisement for Shell has come out. This one will become a classic and will be referred to when the inevitable birds flock home to roost as witness to the destruction of subsurface cabability “engineered” by Bichsel and his sycophants. Mahdi – you hit the nail right on the head.


Having seen the crap by Bichsel I have little to add to the others. He also looks like a worn out old fart, ready to get a heart attack any moment. He lives a stressful life: always lying and manipulating so always looking over his shoulder who may attack him and always remembering what he said to whom and when. Very tiring. The only politically correct words this swiss idiot forgot were ‘sustainable and/or green’ and ‘diversity’. Could this mean a turning point in Shell’s thinking?

He read the words from a teleprompter and it was clearly all written by a young snotnose with an MBA who has never in his life done any real work, and all straight from the thousands of textbooks. I must admit it was an achievement to use so many politically correct words in such a short space of time. Bichsel could be working for General Motors or any other major corporation that is collapsing when you hear ‘his’ story. And if Mahdi Hassan is the real Mahdi Hassan, we have a genuine project manager speaking who has delivered and better on major projects. And all without this jargon bs. But then Mahdi was one of the last proper project managers in Shell. I know of only one at the moment so let’s give Shell the benefit of the doubt and assume there are 3 great project managers around. Is that enough?

What a happy and close bunch this top echelon of Shell must be with characters like Bichsel and Brinded around, pity the Cook woman has gone, she would have added more happiness. This is meant cynically. And bastards like this are looking after the interests of millions of shareholders, responsible for over hundred thousand staff and dealing with governments, both decent and corrupt ones. It is worrying.
Thank you Donovans for posting the video!


I think the video is a good example what happens when management does not tolerate corrective critisism. This is like the emperor and his clothes, everybody involved in the production of this tape must have seen the terrible product and performance, but most likeli told Matthias this was his best performance ever. Although just 2 minutes and 30 seconds, I lost track after 1 minute and 15 secs, but woke up again when he said with the saddest face ever “I am truly exited…”. At least now I know how he looks when he is exited.


I remember the performance of Herkstroter in 1995 or thereabouts when business TV became the thing to do. This autistic banker sat there in a dark (prime teak) and empty boardroom, telling everyone about the future and that we ‘must have fun’. Never blinked an eye or even attempted a grin on his face. Bichsel must have studied this performance in detail. My theory that gorillas breed gorillas is proven once again.

The relevant video by Matthias Bichsel, Director Projects & Technology, Royal Dutch Shell plc:

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

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