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Nepotism at Shell Deer Park Refinery?

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Nepotism: the practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.


Daryl Riemer (26 years old) was hired externally to Shell Deer Park Refinery into a dept where his manager Jeffrey Gribnau, is his brother-in-law. 

In a Shell internal email dated 25 April 2016, Jeffrey gives all kinds of excuses of how it wasn’t nepotism and their code of ethics wasn’t violated.

The job position Riemer took is normally filled internally from very experienced employees. 

No surprise then that his appointment has generated debate and resentment leading to the leaked internal emails, which can be read below.

Amazing how far people will go to assist a needy relative. 

What does it say about the judgment of Jeffrey Gribnau to put himself in a position where he can be accused of nepotism?

His explanation starts out in a straight-forward manner then gets increasingly complex and difficult to comprehend. 

As a result of this article, the controversial appointment is bound to receive some high-level Dutch scrutiny in The Hague. 


From: Gribnau, Jeffrey A SDPR-DMG/132
Sent: Monday, April 25, 2016 10:22 AM
To: GX SDPR Logistics Supervisors; GX SDPR Logistics Ops Docks; GX SDPR PLT; GX SCC DPCP PLT-Prod Leadership Team; GX SDPR Logistics Ops Disp; GX SDPR Land Logistics Opers
Subject: FW: Deer Park – Human Resources Refinery Announcement – Please cascade
Importance: High


For your awareness, I want to be transparent on a potential conflict of interest that exists with the hiring of Daniel into the Specialist role for the docks.  Daniel is my brother-in-law.  His wife Hannah is the younger sister of my wife, Jessica.  I’d like to outline for you the way we managed this issue throughout the interview process and document for you my commitment on how we intend to manage it moving forward for as long as I remain in the Logistics PUM role. 

Hiring Process:

Deer Park established an external poster for the vacant Marine Specialist position through the experienced recruitment team, based in Calgary.  Cory Nickerson was the initial point of contact who developed the external poster and provided initial screening of the resumes.  There were roughly 220 applications for the position, and Cory provided the initial screening and forwarded ~36 applications to Deer Park for review.  One of the applicants forwarded for review was Daniel Riemer, who is my brother-in-law (my wife’s younger sister’s husband).  Cory is not aware of the relationship to Daniel. 

Seeing that Daniel had passed the initial screening, I removed myself from the process going forward and did not participate in any resume reviews.  Kenny Herring (Logistics Reliability Supervisor) and Jim Erdman (Production Excellence Supervisor and former Marine Specialist) conducted all resume reviews and developed a list of 5 or 6 candidates they wanted to reach out to for a phone interview.  Kenny was aware of my relationship to Daniel but Jim was not.  Kenny and I discussed the potential COI and I assured him he should feel no pressure or obligation to treat Daniel any differently than any other candidate.  Kenny assured me he did not feel any pressure from me and understood that as the direct supervisor of this position, he wanted to make the right hire for Deer Park. 

Daniel was selected by Kenny and Jim for a phone interview and ultimately, selected as 1 of 4 individuals invited to the face to face interviews onsite.  Kenny and Jim conducted the technical portion of the interview along with Bonnie Evans from recruitment who conducted the behavioral interview.  Bonnie is not aware of my relationship to Daniel.  Three candidates were interviewed in total as one of the original four removed there application prior to the interview.  Throughout the interviews, Bonnie remained unaware of my relationship to Daniel and to date is not aware of the relationship.  During a break mid-way through the interview, Jim was having some small talk with Daniel and found out through that conversation that he was my brother-in-law.

The day following the completion of the interviews, Kenny informed me that he, Jim, and Bonnie had done a debrief of their notes for all 3 interviews and agreed Daniel was their top candidate for the role.  From there we worked with Anna Grace Lair, HR, to inform the ethics and compliance organization downtown and develop a path forward.  Given the lack of involvement on my part throughout the applicant review process and the fact that 3 of the 4 involved individuals were not aware of the relationship, I’m confident Daniel was selected as the top candidate on his merits and not based on my relationship with him. 

Management of Daniel moving Forward:

With regard to future COI concerns, it is my commitment that in my day to day interactions with Daniel I will treat him no differently than I would any specialist in my area.  The expectations for performance and leadership are firmly in place and will remain so for any and all employees who work in my line.  As it relates to recognition, I recuse myself from any final decisions to award Special Recognition Awards to Daniel should he be nominated for one.  Any recognition involving awards of value will be approved by the refinery Production Manager, currently Helen Forde.  Any opportunities for training, travel, or special projects assignments will be agreed upon by Kenny, Helen, and I as value added and appropriate for the role Daniel is in.  Any concerns regarding Daniel’s performance should be directed to Kenny as his supervisor and Kenny should escalate to Helen and HR if necessary.  My expectation of Kenny as his supervisor is he treats Daniel as he would any new hire, with no preferential treatment due to the relationship to me.  I have clearly explained to Kenny that his performance will not be impacted basis his supervision of Daniel any differently than the other direct reports he supervises.  Once on board, we will also set the expectations with Daniel that he will not receive any favorable treatment due to our relationship nor should he ask or imply to others that he would like to obtain favorable treatment basis our relationship.  We will outline for him the plan moving forward for handling of performance discussions and other opportunities outside the department and how those will be managed through Kenny and Helen.

                I will not participate in any discussions on performance for Daniel.  This includes not only IPF conversations but also discussions on behavioral or discipline issues should they arise.  Kenny as the direct supervisor will work directly with HR and Helen on any questions related to Daniel’s performance.  Kenny will make his recommendation for IPF score basis standard practice of meeting with and aligning with his peers at the supervisor level.  I will not make any recommendations on the IPF or review the IPF once given.  All decisions on PSP awards or CEP rating will be recommended by his supervisor with sign off from HR and Helen if required. 

In short, I’m confident that the team of interviewers selected Daniel basis his merits and that he will be a valuable employee to Deer Park for the future.  The plan to manage this COI was reviewed by HR, Ethics and Compliance downtown, as well as Barry and Helen.  All are supportive of the plan moving forward and I’m confident we can manage any potential issues for the time I remain in this role. 

Should you have any concerns about the hiring process or concerns about management of Daniel in the future, I’d encourage you to speak with Kenny or your HR representative to help resolve the matter.

Jeff Gribnau
Manager Logistics Operations

Deer Park Refinery

Shell Oil Products Company LLC
Tel: (713) 246-4679
Cell:  (281) 546-4858



From: Herring, Kenneth A SDPR-DMG/132
Sent: Friday, April 22, 2016 2:20 PM
To: GX SDPR Logistics Extended Resource Team; GX SDPR Logistics Ops Disp; GX SDPR Logistics Ops Docks; GX SDPR Logistics PTLs; GX SDPR Logistics Supervisors; GX SDPR Production Specialists; Alderson, Joe G SDPR-DMG/154; Anderson, Blake D SDPR-DMG/1342; Billetter, Walt S SDPR-DMG/173; Brown, David E SDPR-DMG/1352; Bulger, Jeffrey SDPR-DMG/162; Burris, Richard L SDPR-DMG/1372; Carleton, Cindy M SOPUS-HRD/LMO; Carter, David M SDPR-DMG/1B41; Castaneda, Martin R SDPR-DMG/1342; Cheatham, Lee E SCC-DCO/72; Circello, Michael C SDPR-DMG/1342; Cutler, Susan M SDPR-DMG/1834; Del Campo, Francisco SDPR-DMG/175; Dobesh, Daniel J SDPR-DMG/134; Dyson, Jack B SDPR-DMG/1341; Erdman, James A SDPR-DMG/154; Fallwell, Phillip A SDPR-DMG/132; Ford, David K SDPR-DMG/154; Ford, Melissa G SCC-DCO/B4; Gibbs, Eddie E SDPR-HRD/LMD; Graff, Ernest W SDPR-DMG/1541; Gustafson, Richard W SDPR-DMG/1321; Hardy, Blaine A SDPR-DMG/1342; Harris, Obie L SDPR-DMG/1381; Haydock, Richard T SDPR-DMG/1381; Herring, Kenneth A SDPR-DMG/132; Hinojosa, Edgar SDPR-DMG/1341; Johnson, Christian S SDPR-DMG/1361; Joseph, David W SDPR-DMG/1352; Kast, BigMan C SDPR-DMG/154; Kepper, Scooby H SDPR-DMG/1321; Lawson, Tom G SDPR-DMG/1341; Mattila, Kurt W SDPR-DMG/1352; Mooring, Gary E SDPR-DMG/1372; Nemeth, Jeffrey D SDPR-DMG/1382; Newmyer, Greg D SDPR-DMG/1352; Pharr, Linda C SDPR-DMG/1321; Ramirez, James C SDPR-DMG/1321; Ramsey, Steven R SDPR-DMG/173; Rice, Shannon D SDPR-DMG/1371; Rivera, Alex SDPR-HRD/LMD; Rockwell, Keith L SDPR-DMG/136; Rozar, Guy W SOPUS-DMW/31; Senter, Chris M SDPR-DMG/1521; Shannon, Steve P SDPR-DMG/192D; Simmons, Slim O SDPR-DMG/135; Stakes, Randy E SDPR-DMG/1351; Stewart, Clyde L SDPR-DMG/138; Stryk, David W SDPR-HRD/LMD; Tighe, Shaune S SDPR-DMG/1342; Utsey, Russell D SDPR-DMG/1341; Wilson, Kelley W SDPR-DMG/1352; Alderson, Joe G SDPR-DMG/154; Bradley, Tim W SDPR-DMG/1511; Erdman, James A SDPR-DMG/154; Ford, David K SDPR-DMG/154; Gray, Tanya SDPR-DMG/135; Harris, Obie L SDPR-DMG/1381; Johnson, Christian S SDPR-DMG/1361; Kast, BigMan C SDPR-DMG/154; Kyne, Jeffrey S SDPR-DMG/154; Lair, Anna Grace C SDPR-HRN/AM; Leonard, Todd T SDPR-HRN/AM; Ramirez, James C SDPR-DMG/1321; Senter, Chris M SDPR-DMG/1521; Stakes, Randy E SDPR-DMG/1351; Utsey, Russell D SDPR-DMG/1341; Wampler, Jeremy D SDPR-DMG/1371; Watts, Shawn A SDPR-DMG/1531; GX SDPR Production STLs; GX DPK Reliability Supervisors
Subject: Deer Park – Human Resources Refinery Announcement – Please cascade

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


  1. John Donovan says:

    No, I did not work for my father for decades. It was just for a few years, initially unpaid in a small family gasoline station business where both of my sisters also worked. Best days of my life. No such thing as performance evaluations. Subsequently co-founded a larger business with him (nearly 50 years ago) which became an International sales promotion agency with clients across the retail spectrum.

  2. Siete-de-mayo says:

    John – you worked for your father for decades. Did he ever write a document explaining how you were hired, who was involved, etc, and how he recused himself from your performance evaluation?

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