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We warned Shell in 2005 that Corrib would turn into a PR disaster

By John Donovan

An article we published on 3rd July 2005 warned in relation to the Corrib Gas project in Ireland: “Do we spy another PR disaster on Shell’s horizon…”

I went on to warn:

..there appears to be all of the ingredients present for another Shell PR disaster…

At the 2005 Shell AGM, the then Chairman of Shell Transport and Trading Company Lord Oxburgh, was gung-ho about  jailing land owner opponents of the Corrib gas pipeline, who became known as the Rossport Five.

As a consequence of a huge national and international outcry about them being imprisoned, Shell ended up asking the courts to release them, even though no guarantees had been received about further protest activity against the pipeline project by the five individuals involved.


Shell later instigated a corruption policy in a long battle against environmental protesters including the Shell to Sea campaign. Even the Irish Police were corrupted. Shell contractors have confirmed this in sworn testimony given in an Irish Court. Corruption and private security/spying on a scale reminiscent of its activities in Nigeria. At least the Rossport Five were only jailed, not hanged, which is what happened to Shell’s Nigerian opponents, the environmental activists – the ‘Ogoni 9’.

The Corrib gas project was beset by years of delays, vastly increased costs and constant negative publicity. No wonder Shell has decided to cut its losses both financial and *reputational by selling its stake.

*Reputational risk, often called reputation risk, is a risk of loss resulting from damages to a firm’s reputation, in lost revenue; increased operating, capital or regulatory costs; or destruction of shareholder value, consequent to an adverse or potentially criminal event even if the company is not found guilty.

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