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Shell fuels Syrian Tanks?

By John Donovan


On Wednesday 24 August 2011, I sent an email to Mr Michiel Brandjes, Company Secretary & General Counsel Corporate, Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

I asked him whether an email sent earlier that same day to a third party, purportedly by Graham Henley, General Manager of Syria Shell Petroleum Development B.V. was authentic. I supplied a copy.

I also advised him of an allegation that Shell fuel has been used in  Syrian army tanks active in the current uprising.

I received an immediate automated acknowledgement from Mr. Brandjes indicating that although on a business trip until 29 August, he would be checking urgent emails on his Blackberry. The following day I sent an email to another Shell email address asking the same questions.

There was no response from Shell, possibly because the subject is one of great sensitivity.

On 26 August I sent a follow-up email to Mr Brandjes:

Since you have not responded to my email of 24 August, I take it that the email response below from Graham Henley is authentic and the allegation is true.

If I do not receive a response today indicating otherwise, I will proceed on that basis.

There has been no response from Mr Brandjes even though we were officially notified that he is our designated contact at Shell.

The email purportedly from Mr Henley, which I believe to be authentic, is printed below. It was a reply sent on behalf of Shell CEO Peter Voser. It seeks to justify Shell’s continuing presence in Syria despite the crimes against humanity being committed against peaceful Syrian protestors by the despotic regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

It says that Shell has publicly expressed concern over the current situation in Syria.

If the allegation that Shell fuel has been used in the Syrian army tanks suppressing the uprising is true, then that would completely undermine Shell’s attempt to distance itself from the Syrian regime, while continuing to do business with them. The business activity includes fueling the tanks via Al Furat Petroleum Company, in which Shell is a major shareholder. Does this not make Shell an accomplice in crimes against humanity?

If the allegation is unfounded, Shell should quickly say so in unequivocal terms.

We note that when the Daily Mail recently accused Shell of working ‘hand in glove’ with the Syrian regime, Shell also refused to comment on that occasion:


Royal Dutch Shell has been accused of working ‘hand in glove’ with the government in Syria where hundreds of unarmed demonstrators have been killed during protests against the regime.

The firm chartered a tanker to export almost 600,000 barrels of the country’s oil worth $55m, according to campaign group Platform. Shell declined to comment.


From: <>

Date: Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 1:22 AM

Subject: Shell in Syria

Thank you for your letter to Peter Voser, to which he has asked me to respond. I understand your concern over the current situation in Syria. We are also concerned. We have publicly condemned the current violence and deeply regret the loss of life in the country. We are monitoring the situation in Syria closely and ensuring the safety and security of our staff, who are our main concern.

Our involvement in oil production in Syria is through a share in a joint venture company, Al Furat Petroleum Company. We do not operate this joint venture but are proud that the over 3000 staff it employs reflect the rich cultural and religious diversity of the country. We are heavily involved in the development of those staff. In the last five years Shell has played a significant role in training more than 400 Syrian graduate staff in the joint venture.

In the last 25 years Shell through Al-Furat Petroleum Company has contributed to the development of the oil and gas industry in Syria, providing income to the country and employment for a generation of Syrians, who have acquired skills and long term employment in a remote area of Syria where there are few other opportunities for employment.

In addition we have an active social investment programme in the country. We and our partners manage a fund in the remote area where Al Furat operates providing amenities such as water schemes. We also have a training programme for entrepreneurs in Damascus, Homs, Hama and Deir Ez Zor, helping Syrians start up their own businesses and create wealth for themselves and the country. In the last three years we have trained 750 people who have set up more than 150 businesses.

We estimate that indirectly more than 30,000 people are touched and benefit through employment and our other activities. Our Syrian staff are supportive of Shell’s continued presence in the country.

We believe these are all positive contributions to the country that should continue as long as we can continue to operate in the country according to our business principles, international and local laws and we can respect human rights, as set out in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the core conventions of the International Labour Organisation. We are committed to conducting business as responsible corporate members of society, complying with applicable laws and regulations, including international sanctions.

I hope this explains our presence in Syria and the contribution we make.

Graham Henley,

General Manager

Syria Shell Petroleum Development B.V.


Basically, Shell is demonstrating once again that it is willing to deal with the devil incarnate, whether in the guise of Hitler, the corrupt Nigerian dictator, General Sani Abachato, the apartheid regime in South Africa, “Mad Dog” Gaddafi, the Iranian Mad Mullahs, Saddam Hussein, or the current Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, killing peaceful protestors on a daily basis.


Why is Shell still present and operating in Syria?:

UN to investigate ‘crimes against humanity’ in Syria: Telegraph 23 August 2011

EU prepares to embargo Syrian oil in line with US: The Scotsman 25 August 2011

EU Embargo on Syrian Crude Likely to Hurt Italy Most: Wall Street Journal 26 August 2011

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