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Web Attack on Whistleblower by Shell Upstream Director

By John Donovan

This article incorporates comments I have made previously about a web-based attack that a senior Shell executive made on a Norwegian whistleblower, Runar Kjørsvik. Until 2014, Runar was the elected Main Safely Delegate for the SAFE Union at the Nyhamna Gas Plant in Norway. 

On 31 January 2017, three years later, Shell published internally on the Shell web “A MESSAGE FROM RICH DENNY” – an Upstream Director of Shell International. It was a sly cowardly attack on Mr Kjørsvik, who was not named. A copy of the relevant Shell web page can be seen below. 

Since his whistleblower activities were already well known and he had just been awarded the 2017 Zola Award at the Norwegian Nobel Institute Exhibition Hall for defending the interests of Shell employees, people reading the “message” would have known exactly who the attack was aimed at, Runar Kjørsvik.

The assertions made in English and Norwegian assailed his integrity and referred to relevant matters as “personal events in the past”.

Denny said that the “stories’ in media coverage are untrue. In other words, allegations made by Runar are unfounded. Denny also implied that Runar is on a revenge mission and that his actions have impacted adversely on many employees, putting a burden on them.

Denny admitted to “some discomfort” at the situation. In the coming days, I will publish a related leaked recent letter from a Shell Managing Director, which will increase the degree of discomfort.

If Runar Kjørsvik has not told the truth about issues and events relating to his duties at the Nyhamna Gas Plant, why has Shell not issued defamation/proceedings, as it did against the Shell Malaysian whistleblower Dr John Huong?

Published by Shell on the Shell Web on 31 Jan 2017


Nyhamna Is a landmark in the Norwegian Petroleum Industry, and we take pride in the creation of a strong competent cluster that has continuously improve the facilities and the reliability since the start up – soon to be 10 years ago. Everyone at Nyhamna has played an important role in the incredible demanding efforts behind us, years of intense project work alongside normal production operations – without any serious injuries or process incidents. It is a stunning achievement. Still, I am not surprised. This is Nyhamna, a place where passion, dedication and hard work suit up to success.

Lately, there have been a number of media reports with a different story about Nyhamna, stemming from events in the past. Many in our organisation will know more about these events the bosses than what is presented in the media stories. Contrary to some of those stories, the former Main Safety Delegate at Nyhamna was not dismissed because he spoke up and pointed areas of improvement. At the time, he went to court to get his job back, and the case was closed by a mutual settlement. We expect more media stories to come, but choose not to comment on allegations based on specific, personal events in the past. I feel some discomforts with how things are presented by the media, and I know that many of you feel the same. But we cannot control this, and know that meeting allegations with an “eye for an eye” – approach will not take us where we want to go, which is to increase mutual trust and cooperation.

I urge us all of us impacted by this to be considerate, and to help to support each other going forward, as it is an extra burden to many. We all take pride in Nyhamna, and have numerous reasons to continue being proud.

We appreciate the efforts of both current and former safety delegates in Shell. They provide a valuable input for improvement as part of their job, as can all of colleagues in Shell. Everyone has a right to speak up and I ask you to please do so if you feel w are heading the wrong directions. It is part of high we can improve – every day.

Shell has undergone challenges in the near past related to hell us becoming a smaller company. We know we have more challenges ahead, which are addressed in the Fit for the Future (F4F) process. Our intention date is always to make changes in the right way, at the right pace – and to undergo these processes in line with their own core values and the expectations set from the regulator and the unions.

So where do we go from here? We wish to proceed by deepening our cooperation with Unions and the Authorities. A fruitful dialogue is an important help in our continuous improvement journey under the “Norwegian model”. The PSA has chosen “Collaboration” as one of the three main themes for 2017, which is a very good opportunity to create a common understanding of what this is, and what is required from all parties. The PSI states:

“Collaboration between various sides in the petroleum sector is under great greater pressure, both between companies and unions and in between them and the government.
Such bi- and tripartite interaction occupies a key place in Norwegian safety efforts. Consequences of a weakened cooperation could include a poorer basis for important decisions by company managements and weaker entrainment with employees of important choices for the way forward.”

I invite all to read more about this in the PSA web-pages.

As our annual Shell People Survey survey results show, we have work to do on improving how engaged our people feel. Historically in Norske Shell we have a great legacy of successful embodiment of the Norwegian Model. Now, at the beginning of a new year, we have a real opportunity to improve that legacy further and make a great start to our 2017 journey.



Climate of fear at Shell Nyhamna Gas Plant in Norway


Informers regime at Shell Nyhamna Gas Plant

Shell trying to ignore media firestorm in Norway

Dysfunction Crisis and Scandal at Shell Norway

More about Shell “Show Trial” at Nyhamna Gas Plant

Translated script that Nyhamna Gas Plant Manager read from at staff canteen meeting filmed by Shell

Employees Exposed to Benzene Contamination at Shell Nyhamna Gas Plant 11 March 2017

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