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SHELL CANADA INSIDER ALLEGATIONS ABOUT CAROLINE GAS PLANT

“Management has been mostly concerned with cutting costs and phasing out plant equipment as it is no longer required.  …culture has been of the “don’t touch F_ck all” variety…” “I chose to work somewhere else because I felt that there was too much corruption and neglect to overcome…”

POSTING ON OUR SHELL BLOG MONDAY 25 FEBRUARY 2019

By “Shell Canada Insider”

SHELL CANADA: …they are wanting to sell their Alberta operations….. because there is no money left in it…they have syphoned it all off…

https://business.financialpost.com/commodities/energy/shell-seeks-sale-of-canadian-refinery-to-focus-on-lng-project

…in Caroline Alberta they had a massive sour gas leak on March 23 2003. It was in the local paper….Caroline Alberta or Sundre Alberta. (Sundre roundup)

I think also on 2010-2011 they had multiple explosions at their Caroline facility supposedly an employee during an explosion at the south compressor station had to be airlifted to hospital and was seriously injured.

The aer/ govt shut it down. it was closed for 6 months and half of the plant was decommissioned when it restarted.

That must have cost them millions of dollars…..there should be government records of this stuff….

EXTRACTS FROM RELATED COMMENTS BY A FORMER SHELL CANADA INSIDER

I used to work at the Caroline Gas Plant as an operator.

Management has been mostly concerned with cutting costs and phasing out plant equipment as it is no longer required.  …culture has been of the “don’t touch F_ck all” variety, in terms of putting money into maintaining the plant equipment…

Before I quit working there, I was appalled by how often we ran our plant equipment

We operated two consecutive liquid hydrocarbon processing portions of the plant with the level indications faulty, unreliable, or non-operational for several months, relying on one IPF function as a barrier to passing high pressure sour gas to the condensate storage tanks which would create huge potential for a large fire, explosion, or sending toxic H2S gas to atmosphere. Shell management knowingly operated like this, not wanting to sacrifice production for process safety, and instead relied on their skilled control room and unit operators to limp the facility along.  During this time, there were several small flaring events, process upsets and large potential for equipment damage and greater magnitude process upsets.  Our (Operations workers) wished to get these problems fixed.  It went largely ignored for quite a while, but we continued to make it hard for management to ignore, by reporting ALL incidents related to this unit and mentioning the root cause in reports for the related process upsets caused by impaired instrumentation.  Eventually, they had no choice but to perform some stop-gap repairs, but they continued to operate for a while longer until the unit was shut down for repairs, which they cut corners on.  

In spite of the creation of SPOG: Sundre Petroleum Operators Group. which was mostly window dressing and was actually Shell Operations people (in the Caroline Plant control room) doing the job that the ERCB (Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board), Shell was only interested in APPEARING to be a good neighbor to the area residents…when it comes to the hard decisions, it is business first, environment and safety second. 

Another series of events highlighted Shell’s disregard for the public occurred when we continued to operate while creating a large odor in the area as fugitive emissions drifted from our condensate storage tanks.  We had some operational issues (remember those trays they didn’t think they needed in the towers, along with the level indications not working, as well as fouled heat exchangers due to poor planning and scheduling of maintenance?)  Shell told us (Operations) that the tank odors were because of the stabilizer tower operational difficulties. A few people did not believe this was the case and told them so.  They ignored it as usual (they were much smarter than us) and continued to operate the stabilizer for many weeks while complaints rolled in from the public about the bad smells in the area from the aromatics and other volatile components still contained in the finished Caroline Condensate product, which were venting from the tank.  Shell told the government watchdog a sob story about their process unit being in sick shape, but that every effort was being made to remedy the situation ASAP.  The ERCB relented and told them we didn’t have to follow the usual protocol of phoning in every time there was a new odor complaint, due to the increased volume of calls related to this subject.  We filled out the paperwork for each complaint but did not have to phone the ERCB every time.  The calls continued to come in for weeks, and the complaints stacked up, while Shell abused the slack that they were given by the watchdog agency.  Eventually the ERCB caught on to this and they sort of hit the roof when they found out JUST how many people had complained and for how long.  I think the ERCB would have forced them to earlier action, had they been getting the reports all along.

Eventually, all other possibilities were exhausted, and Shell was forced to recognize what a few of us said all along; that IT WAS THE TANK (FLOATING ROOF) SEALS ALL ALONG that were to blame.  They confirmed this (an employee broke an LSR during activity; still kept his job.  Shell only seems to like firing contractors over LSR violations, but that is another story….)  This tank repair would be costly and inconvenient, so the tanks would be largely bypassed, sending product straight to pipeline as much as practical.

By now, I was pretty disgusted with Shell’s conduct.  The management was largely made up of good old boys who said “yes” and were lapdogs to their former boss (CAB region supervisor and former plant manager, Keith Eslinger, who left a wake of neglected plants and lots of useless “window dressing” for good PR.)  With each set of new promotions, it was demonstrated that crap does float, as most of the best and brightest chose to leave or were cast from Shell when their talents and expertise were ignored and the incompetents and back-stabbing hypocrites continued to get rewarded and promoted.  Rules were changed to pave the way for promoting those who “played the game” and nepotism flourished.  They seemed to promote family values almost as often as they hired and promoted family members.  Some of these people were very good employees, but that is not the point.  Incident reports were sometimes whitewashed to the point that one fellow employee commented that “I wasn’t even sure if I was there, after reading the report.”  Management insisted also on having employees choose to live in certain locations, and invested heavily in Sundre real estate while forcing some employees to live there (for business reasons.)  Unethical?  For sure.

I felt that we were headed for another TOP EVENT, such as the one that occurred in the past with the pipeline blow-out… or the produced water storage tank that was neglected and eventually blew up before its issue could be resolved.  I chose to work somewhere else, because I felt that there was too much corruption and neglect to overcome, and I had watched my facility (when I started there it really wasn’t a bad place to work at all)  become quite neglected and the work environment was really headed downhill at an alarming rate.

Corporations such as Shell have the government officials in their back pocket. 

ENDS

I have not included comments made by insiders about alleged sinister matters.

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