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Banter with Michiel Brandjes of Royal Dutch Shell Plc

By John Donovan

On Friday I sent an email to Mr Michiel Brandjes (right), Company Secretary & General Counsel Corporate of Royal Dutch Shell Plc. It had a subject – “Gannet Oil Spill: Document Authenticity” – but no content.  It was sent by mistake.

It prompted the subsequent self-explanatory email correspondence.


Date: 12 September 2011 08:00:54 GMT+01:00
Subject: RE: Gannet Oil Spill: Document Authenticity

Dear Mr Donovan,

You email below is the shortest and least objectionable email I have received from you to date.

Best Regards,
Michiel Brandjes
Company Secretary and General Counsel Corporate
Royal Dutch Shell plc

Registered office: Shell Centre London SE1 7NA UK
Place of registration and number: England 4366849
Correspondence address: PO Box 162, 2501 AN  The Hague,
The Netherlands

—–Original Message—–
From: John Donovan []
Sent: vrijdag 9 september 2011 17:38
To: Brandjes, Michiel CM RDS-LSC
Subject: Gannet Oil Spill: Document Authenticity

Dear Mr Brandjes



From: John Donovan <>
Date: 12 September 2011 16:29:25 GMT+01:00
Subject: Re: Gannet Oil Spill: Document Authenticity

Dear Mr Brandjes

I am pleased that the brevity of my email apparently brightened your start of a new week.

I had intended to complete and send the email after receiving analysis of the leaked document by experts.  Seems that I sent it without realising.

Not as amusing as when Mr Wiseman mistakenly sent us an email about our objectionable activities, which he had meant to send only to Jeroen van der Veer and Malcolm Brinded.

With regards to the leaked document, the collective expert opinion available from our Shell related sources is that although it may contain clues to the origin of the Gannet Alpha oil spill, without further facts or information, there is not enough evidence to warrant further comment by us at this time.

In view of the following paragraph of your email dated 22 December 2009, I am never sure whether we will receive a response from you:

It is in my DNA indeed to respond to all and everything as appropriate. However, while that is the starting position please note that I can not be held to always respond to everything as a Company Secretary. There are messages which do not call for a response or not by me, there are matters in which a further response can not serve any purpose, and there are persons with whom I do not or no longer communicate for justified reasons. I intend to continue to help genuine third parties whom you refer to me and do not fall in the earlier mentioned categories.

It is not quite as mind-bending as the explanation by Donald Rumsfeld of known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns.

For the record, we do still receive email meant for Shell every day.

As per your standing request, I weed out what I consider to be junk mail, which appropriately is mainly from China.  Much of it is addressed to my father, probably because he is perceived, perhaps because of his WSJ image displayed on our website, as being the supreme leader at Royal Dutch Shell. We direct enquiries about “Shell” lottery scams to the Shell Fraud/Scam Alert on your website. All job applications/CV’s which arrive from around the world are directed to the appropriate page on your website.

All other enquiries and business proposals meant for Shell are passed to you.

Best Regards

John Donovan


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