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Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 19.20.35The article printed below was supplied to the Company Secretary & General Counsel Corporate of Royal Dutch Shell Plc., Mr Michiel Brandjes, on Monday 15 Sept 2014. I asked Mr Brandjes to also bring the article to the attention of Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden and the Shell-Motiva Security Supervisor named in the working headline. The parties were given the opportunity to take issue with the stated facts, comment and/or take legal action to prevent publication. No response has been received. It follows that Shell has also not disputed the authenticity of quoted internal email correspondence. Readers are free to draw their own conclusions.


This is the true story of a former U.S. Secret Service Agent and former Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security. He was hired by a contractor firm in June of this year to become Project Manager with responsibility for the security force at the Shell-Motiva Norco site in Louisiana. The site is spread over 700 acres, inclusive of a major refinery.

I have confirmed the remarkable background of this individual, who has worked in some of the most stressful operational settings. This includes his assignment as the Incident Commander for the rescue, relief, recovery and federal law enforcement activities in preparation for and in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, where he commanded vast personnel resources as well as small boats, aircraft and vehicles, for which he was granted seven high-level awards and commendations.

He has never encountered, in a career at the highest levels of the federal government, such a thoroughly unprofessional, hostile working environment, as he found at the Shell-Motiva Norco site.

The gentleman in question felt a sense of foreboding when he learnt that his immediate predecessor, Mr Kenneth Gustavis, who was employed by the same contractor, was being unceremoniously removed from the position in unusual circumstances. News that Mr Gustavis intended to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the contractor company and Shell-Motiva heightened his unease.

The likely underlying reason for the abrupt departure of Mr Gustavis (escorted off the property) soon became apparent. The alleged problem Mr Gastavis and his successor encountered can be described in two words: Jo Kerkhoff, a Security Supervisory working for Shell-Motiva.

The former Secret Service Agent alleges that her activities undermined the role of Project Manager; that she was unprofessional, power hungry, rude and consistently attempted to subordinate him, on one occasion repeatedly demanding that he should sit down (while she gave him a personal lecture).

Her emails to him were devoid of any attempt at normal politeness in communications between colleagues. The content of one email was: “You should come and see me.” Nothing else. No opening greeting. No sign off. No pretence of civility.

It soon became apparent that he was not alone in his assessment of Jo Kerkhoff. He received extremely negative feedback about her from many Shell-Motiva employees and contractor workers at the NORCO site. Her toxic reputation was widely known. Complaints were not lodged because of a fear of reprisal by her.

Since we only have the account of the former federal law enforcement officer about his dealings with her (other than internal emails I have seen, which confirm his account), I invite anyone who has worked with Ms Kerkhoff – present and past colleagues, subordinates, supervisors and contractors – to post comment on our Shell Blog about what she is like to work with. Is she a kind, considerate person of integrity, a professional who treats colleagues with respect and is a pleasure to work with, or the opposite – bullying, abrasive, rude and vindictive? There is no need to register to post a comment on the Shell Blog. All postings are anonymous unless you choose to reveal your real identify.

A contracting company is obviously in a difficult position if its employees are abused, bullied and mistreated by employees of a major global client. Appeasement is the likely outcome when multi-million dollar contracts are at stake, thereby allowing any such despicable behaviour to persist without retribution.

The gentleman in question sent a conciliatory email to Jo Kerkhoff in a genuine attempt to defuse the situation and in the hope of building a long term professional relationship. He did so after obtaining the prior approval of the contracting company and Mr Mike Cisnero, the Shell-Motiva line manager of Jo Kerkhoff.

On one occasion, a subordinate to Ms Kerkhoff, Mr. Brandon Lawler, was allegedly seen with his ear up to the office door of the former federal agent, listening for over three minutes during a conversation he was having with a Security Officer, Mr William McNeil. The decidedly low tech surveillance was reported to Mr. McNeil by another Security Officer.

The former Secret Service Agent also discovered to his astonishment that after the unpleasant meeting with Jo Kerkhoff, when she repeatedly demanded that he should sit down, Kerkhoff allegedly carried out an unauthorised and therefore potentially illegal and certainly unethical, “background investigation,” on him, claiming she had unearthed derogatory comments about him. No evidence was provided (the allegations were without foundation) and he was given no opportunity to refute the false comments, the basis on which he was allegedly removed from his post.

Naturally this gentleman of impeccable credentials and reputation is disgusted at his treatment by Shell-Motiva who apparently support the activities of Ms Kerkhoff, who remains in her position as a Security Supervisor at the Shell-Motiva Norco site.

Shell had advance sight of this article with an invitation to investigate and/or provide comment for publication on an unedited basis. I also requested that the allegations be put to Ms Jo Kerkhoff, so that she also had an opportunity for right of reply. It follows that Shell and Jo Kerkhoff also had the opportunity to seek an injunction to prevent publication.


This is an extract from the claimed Business Principles of Royal Dutch Shell Plc.


Shell employees share a set of core values – honesty, integrity and respect for people. We also firmly believe in the fundamental importance of trust, openness, teamwork and professionalism, and pride in what we do.

The hostile work environment encountered by the gentleman in question was apparently sadly lacking in many of these claimed core values, especially respect for people and professionalism.

(The Shell Business Principles on are still signed by the long-departed former RDS Plc CEO, Mr Peter Voser. This provides an indication of the lack of importance given to them by his replacement, Mr Ben van Beurden.)

There is perhaps a more sinister dimension. In the course of carrying out his duties, the former federal law enforcement agent suspects that he may have stumbled across “some sort of payroll fraud scheme.” He now wonders if this was a factor in the turn of events that led to his, and his immediate predecessors departure from security oversight at the Norco facility.

The basic rights of an employee, including fair treatment, appear to have been sacrificed in the commercial interests of two multi-national giants. This leaves Ms Kerkhoff free to continue with the alleged deplorable behaviour towards colleagues referred to above.


This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.


  1. leftnthedust says:

    I worked with Jo since she came on site. I did my job diligently. Always kept my post organized, excelled at my job duties, and always did more than I should to help someone out. While she was there, she would always have the supervisors pass down information by word of mouth and when you requested that she put it in writing it was always an excuse or procrastination involved. She is the reason I was fired because she felt challenged/threatened by me or what have you. On my paper I received when I was fired she put poor job performance. Now, before she got there and while she was there I was always thanked, appreciated, and “patted on the back” by other employees and even other outside professionals. Now I’m not saying I’m perfect but how can you just fire someone because you don’t like the fact that they will not bow down to you or kiss your butt. I enjoyed everyone I worked with…. Except her.

  2. nightshift says:

    Jo a kind, considerate person??? HAAAAA LMFAO….She is so full of herself and fake it isn’t even funny. Shell management is horrible and the fact that Jo can still be employed after this is horrible. Shame, shame, shame – a word Jo and the rest of them should look up along with Karma.

  3. motivadog says:

    although this is about Norco, I can honestly say the words back stabber, rude, mean spirited, bullying, vindictive, inadequate and many others too numerous to list could describe the supervisors at the Motiva terminal where I worked and would still like to be working, but It seems the good ol’ boy (and girl) network is the accepted management style at Motiva. I was told that most management people are untouchable no matter how wrong they are, or what they do! I wanted to work a few more years, but I left one month after making my 80 points, took the pension and got another job. It all comes down to ” the names may change, but the bulls**ts the same” no matter where in Motiva you are, or were employed!

  4. oldtimer63 says:

    Shell Oil is one of the most corrupt companies on the face of the Earth. No doubt the former secret service guy would make them nervous. No telling what he saw or stumbled across. I’ll bet this goes far beyond some loud-mouth lady being pretentious and crappy. I know a few active and former secret service agents, and performing a “surveillance,” especially one so lame, on one is not a good idea at all. These guys are heavily trained operators and I can guarantee you whomever did the surveillance had no idea what kind of potential danger he was in. Once with the Government, always with the government, that I can tell you about secret service agents. Also, who in the hell does such things? Ridiculous. I smell lawsuit, and if I were Shell I’d pay this guy a large sum of cash before he rips them a new one.

  5. alyeska1 says:

    Typical Shell Management. This guy should have said he was a guard-shack supervisor and dummed down his resume. I can guarantee once upper management found out his background his time was limited. Shell Oil, of all companies, couldn’t have a former fed snooping around their operation. Plus it sounds like this Kerkoff lady is a Jerkoff:1)

  6. sam1 says:

    Jo Kerkoff worked for me in the past. She was often too aggressive with the way she conducted her job duties, although sometimes it was warranted. However, she seemed to enjoy being unpleasant toward other people, especially subordinates. It seemed to me she was overcompensating for feelings of inadequacy. I hope that’s all, but I suspect she just enjoys being rude and abrasive. The agent must have laughed his A@s off when she told him to sit down…she’s very slight and thin. Poor Jo…issues everywhere she’s worked.

  7. bamaman says:

    @ Bayou55: True, true. I know the man that’s being referred to in this article. He had things figured out from day one. Even I was shocked at how quickly he had figured out what (or who) the problem was at Shell. Even he knew his days were numbered according to what he told me. When he found out someone was listening at his door you should have seen his face!!! Any by the way he was a true security professional – not a make-believe one like jo and Mike.

  8. Bayou55 says:

    From the article: “Is she a kind, considerate person of integrity, a professional who treats colleagues with respect and is a pleasure to work with, or the opposite – bullying, abrasive, rude and vindictive?”

    I don’t work directly for her, but basically work with her daily. At first I thought Jo’s “short” and “snappy” way of speaking and emailing was because she was just in charge of so much. I was wrong. All of comments others have posted are unfortunately true…especially the word “backstabber.” Jo is mean and could care less for anybody who does not agree with her. She is not a “…professional who treats colleagues with respect and is a pleasure to work with.” Jo is all of the words you used – bullying, abrasive, rude and vindictive – and more. I do not like conflict, and hate to speak bad about people, but I’m so happy someone has brought Jo’s unprofessionalism to light. I don’t feel sorry for her at all.

  9. Blackops says:

    Wow no need for me to post – you summed it all up contractor. Everything changed when she (Kerkoff) showed up. We have a nickname for her. To not be lewd all I’ll say is it’s a play on the name Kerkoff with the fist K replaced by another letter!

  10. Contractor says:

    I work at the site for a contracting firm who works directly with Shell/Motiva security. I worked for the company before the arrival of Jo Kerkoff and before her boss, Mike Cisneros, was promoted to overall supervisor. Prior to Jo’s arrival, everything ran smoothly on the security end of things and everyone got along. Almost as soon as Mike got promoted and brought Jo on board, the entire complexion of things at the site changed. It became obvious that if you did not do everything Jo wanted, to include fire or remove employees she didn’t like, for any reason at all, you were going to be fired as a contractor. She is a rude, bullying, mean, xxxx, spiteful, liar. She will tell you to do one thing verbally, and later if that turns out to be wrong or not something her supervisor Mike wants or likes, she’ll deny ever telling you to do it or to take the action in the first place. She is untrustworthy, a back-stabber, and is not respected by anyone of her employees or any contract employees, except for the ones that play her game, appease her, and that she knows she can manipulate. She loves to manipulate and use one against the other. She loves to cause trouble for people whenever possible. I actually believe she enjoys causing pain for good people and will immediately try to get rid of anyone that sees her for what she is. No doubt in my mind that the agent referred to in the article saw through her facade almost immediately and when she realized that he was not going to play her games and tolerate her nonsense, she took steps to get rid of him. Her boss basically doesn’t know what he’s doing, so he does pretty much whatever Jo tells him. He is basically a figure-head. Ether way, I can guarantee you no one knew more about security oversight than the former Secret Service Agent, and that’s precisely why he was drummed out of his position.

  11. ukcontractor says:

    I worked at this site as a contractor and had to deal with this person. The person referred to as “Jo” is actually a woman. I experienced the same lack of normal professional communication from her on numerous occasions and it was obvious that she was a neophyte who was way in over her head. The unreal thing is that there is nothing going on at the site that requires her to be so unpleasant and military-like. She acts, looks and talks like a U.S Army soldier. Her job is incredibly easy. She basically supervises a small staff, does reports, and oversees a security contractor, I believe G4S. That’s it! There is no reason for her, as she did with me also, to be so rude, mean-spirited and ridiculous. I used to work quite frequently for Shell, and she and her attitude is one of the reasons my company doesn’t do much work for Shell anymore. What a joke. I feel sorry for the former U.S. Fed, but he obviously intimidated Jo and her staff by the way he was allegedly treated. Listening through a door…how childish and preposterous for a major oil company. Very, very sick.

  12. intheknow says:

    I can tell you first hand that Jo Kerkoff is one of the most unpleasant women I have ever dealt with. She has the professionalism of a neophyte. Her issue is that she wants to be in control of anything and everything to cover for her inadequacy as a professional and manager and I have often wondered who she is related to there in that corrupted place. Perhaps this agent did find out something they didn’t want him to know. I can guarantee you Kerkoff thinks she is some kind of hot s@%t, which she is certainly not. She is what I call a “this is my kitchen” type person, and makes back door deals, screws people over routinely, and is one of the least respected folks by any contractor at the Shell/Motiva site. He boss is also a joke who is more worried about appearances than real security. That’s the likely reason a bonifide security professional was treated so poorly. Kerkoff and her boss wouldn’t even qualify for the first step of the the Secret Service process, much less win awards, etc. This poor guy must have thought he was in The Twilight Zone.

  13. Blackops says:

    After working at this site for many years I can identify with this man’s plight. The “good ol’ Boy” – or in this case “girl” – network is well engrained there. Such Megalomania is common at Shell/Motiva. I’m so happy I’m out of there. The agent should count his blessings – although I realize that’s of no consolation to his livelihood. What a shame but unfortunately not surprising at all.

  14. Blackops says:

    After working at the Shell Motiva site for many years, I can vouch for every word above. The “good Ol’ Boy” – or in this case “girl” – network of management at the site was sickening. I am so happy to be long gone from that horrid site. The former agent may want to count his blessings, although I realize that’s of no consolation for his livelihood. Good Luck Sir!

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