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Shell CEO Peter Voser should resign over Arctic debacle

Instead of an apology, humility, transparency, and resignations, Shell CEO Peter Voser serves up the usual diet of pr horse shit fed to the public and Shell stakeholders. Horse meat is at least digestible.

By John Donovan

Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 10.51.42Tesco is to be congratulated for treating its customers like adults over the horse meat scandal. The supermarket chain immediately apologised and took action to restore trust in the company by its customers and investors. No spin. Just the plain truth. Embarrassing, but honest and reassuring. 

Shell has taken exactly the opposite approach over the meltdown of its Arctic foray. I refer to the groundings, fire, explosion and related safety and environmental violations that befell and eventually torpedoed its Arctic fleet of refurbished rust-buckets.

Instead of coming clean about the gross incompetence of senior management, Shell has treated the public and its investors like gullible fools, just as it did with the reserves scandal.

This is what Shell said about its Arctic plans in May 2010 when it was intending to drill three exploration wells, plans subsequently scuppered by misjudgement, inexperience and criminal ineptitude:

“Curtis Smith, external affairs manager for Shell Alaska, said the company plans “to continue mobilizing in hopes of drilling this summer. We would not do so unless we were absolutely confident in our ability to operate safely and responsibly in the Alaska OCS”—the outer continental shelf—”an area in which we have significant experience and an excellent track record.” (LA Times Article)

That claimed track record has been demolished by subsequent events, culminating in the US Coast Guard Authorities calling in the US Justice Department to investigate a catalog of safety and environmental violations.  

Last Thursday, the day after Shell announced the indefinite pause of its Arctic plans, Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Peter Voser spoke at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington about Shell’s release of its “New Lens Scenarios” report.

There was not the slightest hint of any apology from him about Shell’s Arctic debacle, just pure spin on what has become an increasingly sensitive issue:

Extract from UPI report

Voser said Shell considers its U.S. arctic pursuit “a multiyear exploration program,” with development potential in the second half of the next decade. Under such timelines, he said “we will take the time to do this right, in order to be the responsible operator in a multiyear exploration program.” In an apparent reference to its arctic drilling experience, Shell says in the report, “In the oil world, moderate prices put pressure on technically difficult and expensive frontier projects more common outside OPEC.”

That is what passes as honesty from Shell. A tantamount admission of the obvious, but hidden in double-talk and spin. Shell did not get it right. It could hardly have been more ill-prepared and ill-equipped, yet its clapped out fleet, commanded by reckless fools, blundered its way into Arctic waters like a Monty Python inspired expedition. 
All of this after Peter Voser castigated BP for its US misadventure.

What breathtaking hypocrisy from the man ultimately responsible for Shell’s Arctic meltdown. Shell has been humiliated and shamed.

According to an informed source, there are probably no other rigs available to take over the work in the Arctic. Somebody is going to have to find $2 billion for new builds. And then wait for 2 or 3 years while they are built. This no doubt explains the indefinite pause presented as being part of a “multiyear programme” rather than a huge blow to Shell’s reputation. A forced delay at great cost to shareholders, brought about by reckless corner cutting and incompetence is presented as a positive.

Instead of an apology, humility, transparency, and resignations, Shell CEO Peter Voser serves up the usual diet of pr horse shit fed to the public and Shell stakeholders. Horse meat is at least digestible.


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