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Shell investigates alleged IP theft at Geelong Refinery

Photograph of Shell’s Geelong refinery in Australia

By John Donovan

Printed below is email correspondence involving a whistleblower employee from Shell’s Geelong refinery in Australia and Mr Michiel Brandjes, Company Secretary and General Counsel Corporate of Royal Dutch Shell.

Although Mr Brandjes claimed that it was not a matter for correspondence with this website, he has in fact corresponded, replying within a deadline, and has agreed to intervene.

Shell has had a reasonable time to investigate, but apparently the matter has not been resolved.

The issue at the heart of this matter is the same one that led to our falling out with Shell nearly 20 years ago: Shell stealing ideas – in this case allegedly from a Shell employee.


From: John Donovan [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: donderdag 5 april 2012 10:08
To: Brandjes, Michiel CM RDS-LSC
Cc: Voser, Peter SI-GLOBAL
Subject: Diana Newman, Geelong Refinery

Dear Mr Brandjes

Printed below is a self-explanatory email received from a Shell employee.

If you wish to investigate this matter kindly let me know by 5pm UK time today. If I receive no response by then, I will assume that this is another one of those occasions where Shell does not wish to comment.

If however you do wish to investigate, then we will not publish anything on this matter until you have had a reasonable time to establish the facts. Just let me know by 5pm that you do intend to look into the allegations. When we subsequently receive your substantive response, it will, as normal, be published in full, unedited by us.

Best Regards
John Donovan


I write this email in the hope of it forming part of the sordid side of Shell and its inability to follow its own core values at the very top of its management.

I work in the Shell Geelong refinery in Australia, and I work in the same role as a lady named Diana Newman (she lives in East Geelong Australia). Diana has continued to educate herself at the Deakin University in Geelong at the Engineering section. She was doing a paper under two project supervisors from Deakin, Dr Richard Yang and Professor Lingxue Kang. Diana wrote an almost 300 page document titled Experimental and Numerical Investigations on failure Mechanisms in salt water cooling exchangers.

In her work she then designed a method by which the cooling medium into these cooling water exchangers actually salt cooling at the beginning of the exchanger, with no dead spots or spots that residue sand etc would accumulate, a truly remarkable break through with implications for the oil and chemical industry world wide, and savings of millions of dollars.

Diana’s big mistake was to take her paper in to work and show Shells reliability Manager, a blood sucker by the name of Rod Mayes, who realized the potential and ran off and presented this work to Vice President Downstream Australia, Mr Andrew Smith.  Shells immediate action was to have Diana sign secrecy agreements, a very naive Diana just too trusting of the blood suckers called Shell management, as well as that Shell Geelong lauded and applauded Mr Rod Mayes for work he would never hope to emulate, and then proceeded to carry out trials of Diana’s design. These trials have been an outstanding success confirming the potential savings to the industry of possibly hundreds of millions of dollars, but with Diana being completely cut out of the trials and her due recognition by Shell, contrary to their own statement of principals.

I can only imagine Shell negotiating quietly behind the scenes with Deakin and tie up the patent for Diana’s hard work and without other oil companies bidding for the rights.

It has disappointed many of her colleges to see all her efforts pushed aside with this truly remarkable breakthrough, and not get any of the accolades she rightly deserves. She even told friends that maybe she should include that blood sucker Rod Mayes jointly on her paper.

Mr Andrew Smith has been emailed by a number of work colleges trying to get her recognition, but he to seems to have forgotten Shells core values, so what hope for those most deserving.

It would be truly helpful if your web site could include the recognition Diana deserves, and even if it is by question ask is it true that Diana has made this find but is being denied the accolades from Shell and Deakin she should be getting.

I thank you for your time  and if I can contribute in the future I will.


From: [email protected]
Subject: RE: Diana Newman, Geelong Refinery
Date: 5 April 2012 13:52:28 GMT+01:00
To: [email protected]

Dear Mr Donovan,

Thank you for forwarding this. We will certainly look into this and action as appropriate in accordance with the Shell Code of Conduct etc.. It is not a matter for correspondence with your website though.

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

Email: [email protected]


Hi John,

No news at all if anything it is worse, part of Diana’s report identified a tidal influence also on the operation of the cooling water system in the refinery, and yes once again they are now saying that this has been identified as a contributor to the problem, and once again no recognition for Diana’s enormous work, rather the blood sucker of an engineer??? just putting it in print as if he was the problem solver.

This companies inability to honor their own business principals, ethics etc is absolutely legendary, it truly is amazing anyone would trust dealing with them, in fact the higher up the tree they get the more likely they are to dishonor their own business principals contrary to what the ordinary employee is expected of.

In fact a fellow employee commented on how that whenever we hear of a staff person doing a fiddle over claim etc, we all have to do mandatory ethics training; hows that for hypocrisy.

Apparently they believe if they ignore her she will go away. As for their ownership claim, they should have contributed to her education expense’s as it is they gave her zilch, not even recognition of her outstanding finds that will follow through world wide.

Talking to other employees with many years of employment at Shell, they are not surprised that it seems to be ingrained in the training of senior staff, to take ownership of others good ideas, and they, unlike normal employees, are not required to respect Shell’s business principals ethics, morals or other honorable business practices.

Goodbye for now and keep up the good work on your web site.

Best Regards


If anyone named in this article wishes to comment or refute anything stated herein, that information will be published here.

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