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IRAQ: The Real Shell Shock & Awe Campaign

By John Donovan

On 1st April 2021, I sent the email printed below to Royal Dutch Shell PLC Chief Executive Mr Ben van Beurden and to his legal director, Mr Donny Ching.

It contained serious allegations by a credible whistleblower about Shell’s alleged corrupt activities in Iraq in collusion with the Iranian regime.

I invited Shell to comment. Shell chose not to do so.

Shell also had time to obtain a legal injunction to prevent publication.

Shell chose not to do so.

Shell could have requested more time to investigate.

Shell knows that I will always give the company more time to look into allegations if it asks.

Again, Shell chose not to do so.


From: John Donovan <[email protected]
Subject: The Real Shell Shock & Awe Campaign
Date: 1 April 2021 at 20:15:31 BST
Cc: [email protected]” <[email protected]>, John Donovan

Dear Mr Ben van Beurden

I am in contact with a credible whistleblower who uses the alias, the Iraqi Governance Revolt & Systemic Overhaul

His identity is known to me and to the authorities.

He has supplied me with a copy of an email he sent on 25 March 2021 to The World Bank Group and several US and UK regulators, including the US DoJ, SEC, OFAC and the UK Attorney General’s Office and Treasury. It is reprinted below together with information in a follow-up email I received from the whistleblower on 31 March 2021.

Shell’s relationship with Iran has for some time been a toxic subject. Shell continued doing business with Iran despite sanctions on the Iranian government. See the Wall Street Journal article: “Oil Trade With Iran Thrives, Discreetly.”

Extract from an extensive article I published on the subject:

Articles reported that Shell had stopped selling gasoline to Iran. No mention was made at the time that Shell was surreptitiously continuing to buy oil from the Iranians. Shell used subterfuge to disguise shipping movements.

A related email I sent on 19 March 2007 to Bill O’Reilly at Fox News and published as an article on my website created a near frantic reaction at Shell Oil Company at what might result from the content – a boycott of Shell by American drivers. It prompted a flurry of email correspondence between Shell Oil in the USA and Royal Dutch Shell in Europe.

My email to Mr O’Reilly also sparked an investigation, which included Shell approaching the USA government to seek information about my late father and me. Shell prepared a contingency reactive press statement designed to distance Shell in the USA as much as possible from the dispute Shell had with us.

The whistleblower’s allegations suggest that Shell’s dangerous but lucrative relationship with the Iranian regime has continued into more recent times.

Please let me know by close of business Monday 5th April if Shell wishes to comment or take issue with the authenticity of the attached documents, some of which are confidential and involve other parties including China.

If there is no response I will assume Shell does not challenge the accuracy or authenticity of the information and will publish all of it. I would make it plain the open basis on which I approached Shell about the allegations prior to publication.


Iraq’s National Energy Security & Humanitarian Crises: The World Bank Project in Iraq: Shell’s Basrah NGL Plant

Date: Thu, Mar 25, 2021 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Iraq’s National Energy Security & Humanitarian Crises : The World Bank Project in Iraq : Shell’s Basrah NGL Plant

Dear Esteemed Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) of The World Bank Group,

I am writing to alert you of Iraq’s national energy security and humanitarian crises, which also directly relates to your investment in the Basrah NGL plant with Shell’s gas venture, the Basrah Gas Company (BGC).

Attached are letters issued from the infamous Unaoil Group and BGC, relating to the termination of the contract for the rehabilitation of critical gas compression stations in the Exxon-operated oilfield of West Qurna I (WQ-I).

BGC had terminated the contract with Unaoil group for its convenience on 10 December 2015, “due to the lack of funds to finance the Project and meet its payment obligations.”  This project suspension resulted in gas flaring to remain unhindered at WQ-I, and given the scope of capturing the associated gas is exclusive to BGC, Exxon was left helpless watching the gas going up in flames it was producing at the field.

The letter continues, “BGC is due to receive a payment of USD300 million … the money has been received from The World Bank and is in Iraq awaiting approval to distribute.”

Therefore, the critical gas project had been terminated having reached under $50 million, and BGC was instead relying on funding from your esteemed group to develop Iraq’s gas sector.

Considering Shell has monopolistic control over my country’s gas sector, this amounts to an abuse of market position and power, which has resulted in gas flaring to remain unchecked to the detriment of my country’s environment and financial well-being.  The flaring has also deprived Iraq’s power plants of its much needed fuel supply, thereby directly contributing to the country’s power crisis and recklessly forcing Iraq to remain dependent on Iranian gas imports.

Shortly after the termination of the contract, on 7 March 2016, Shell confirmed it had wired 1.77 billion euros to the Iranian National Oil Company (INOC) to settle its outstanding debt with the Iranian regime.  This payment was also previously blocked by the UK government in April 2013, as Shell was trying to circumvent international sanctions against Iran at the time.  With the $2 billion debt payment was parked for several years, Shell clearly had the funds and the company was deliberately withholding funding to progress the development of Iraq’s gas sector.

The prioritized payment made to the Iranian regime also demonstrated that Iran’s debt takes precedence over Iraq’s national energy security, and my country’s national interests.

The following day, on 8 March 2016, BGC re-awarded the critical gas compression project in WQ-I along with a portfolio of brownfield projects to China’s CPECC (CNPC’s contracting arm), in order to resume the critical gas development.  However, according to CPECC’s project reference list, the award was made on a deferred payment scheme (EPC+Finance), thereby obtaining external Chinese financing for the project.  It had become abundantly clear that Shell had no financial commitment in developing Iraq’s gas sector, and the company was abusing its monopolistic control to serve Iranian interests.

To make matters worse, Shell has committed all the dry gas produced from the BNGL development to supplying the Rumaila IPP, which is openly financed, indirectly owed and operated by the Iranian regime.  With the gas allocated and also controlled by the Iranian’s, my country’s gas grid remains vulnerable and highly dependent on Iranian fuel imports.

To add insult to injury, the BNGL facility is also sourcing all of its power requirements from the Iranian-owned power plant, thereby further tightening Iran’s chokehold on my country’s national energy security.  The power connection was also awarded in the midst of the US administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign, and Shell also made a public disclosure in support of Iranian interests.

Despite the underlying corruption concerns relating to the involvement of the so called ‘Bribe Factory’ of Unaoil group with BGC, the BNGL development has deviated from its intended purpose and is merely serving Iranian interests.

The project is also egregiously undermining US & UK national security interests and foreign policy objectives in Iraq, and the wider Middle East region, which warrants for the immediate suspension of the BNGL development until it can be reconfigured to serve its intended purpose of improving the livelihoods of my fellow Iraqi people.

Needless to say, Shell’s loyalty lies with the Iranian regime and the two are committing unthinkable horrors against my people, and are holding my country’s national energy security hostage in the process.

I eagerly look forward to hearing back from you regarding the aforementioned national security and humanitarian crises, moreover to advancing the interests of Iraq’s sovereignty and energy security.

Best regards,

4 Files supplied by the whistleblower

Follow-up information received from the whistleblower on 31 March 2021

Basra Water Crisis

Dear John,

In addition to Shell’s blatant complicity in abusing its gas monopoly to keep Iraq unnecessairly dependent on costly Iranian gas imports, the company’s operatorship of the Majnoon oilfield reinforces the fact that the company is acting as a corporate proxy for the Iranian regime.

Although Shell was deliberately failing on its financial obligations to develop Iraq’s gas sector, through the company’s oilfield operations Shell paid to revive the Iran-Iraq waterway and to build a port at its own expense, with no reimbursement.

To put things into perspective, the Shatt Al-Arab River had been closed since the break-out of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, the strategic waterway was also a key driver of the war between the two sides, and the maritime passage has been at the forefront of water sovereignty disputes between Iraq and Iran, which also remains unresolved.  Therefore, Shell’s first order of business in the Majnoon oilfield was to infringe on Iraq’s water sovereignty and to revive the river delta, which also benefits Iran and would ordinarily be a shared cost.

The company also developed the first commercial port in over 30 years in the Iran-Iraq waterway, which is entirely unrelated to oil & gas operations, as it receives commercial cargo and is not designed specifically to haul project-related equipment.

The Majnoon oilfield straddles along the Iraq-Iran border and represents the largest oil deposit shared between the two countries.

Despite Shell having shut-down production in Majnoon and being blamed for over $4.6 billion in production losses, after the lifting of Iranian sanctions the company signed an agreement with the National Iranian Oil Company for the Azadegan oilfield, which coincidentally is the Iranian half of the Majnoon oilfield.

Shell exited the oilfield in June 2018 having achieved merely 12% of its contracted production plateau target, which blatantly demonstrates that the port was not used to logistically support the project, and the berth could easily be used as a smuggling route for the Iranian regime.  Whereas, material and equipment could be imported destined for Iraqi ports, the shipments would be hauled into the Majnoon berth, and the goods could be easily transported by road into Iran through the largest shared land border.

Also, given Shell’s horrific environmental track-record in systemically polluting Nigeria’s river delta, and with the Iranian’s controlling the strategic Shatt Al-Arab waterway, by mid-July 2018 Iraq experienced its worst water crisis in modern history, with over 118,000 people being hospitalized suffering from water pollution.

As you can appreciate, my country’s national security is being blatantly tampered with, and Shell is complicit with the Iranian regime in the humanitarian crises my fellow Iraqi people are suffering from.

Best regards,



Unaoil (Wikipedia)

Extracts downloaded 5 April 2021

In 2016, the UK Serious Fraud Office alleged before the UK High Court in a separate case brought by Unaoil that the firm was engaged in “extensive” corruption. Unaoil’s litigation, in which it alleged the SFO had acted unlawfully, was dismissed by the High Court.

Corruption charges laid by Serious Fraud Office

On 17 November 2017, the Serious Fraud Office charged two former Unaoil Iraq managers with conspiring to pay bribes to win Dutch company SBM Offshore contracts in Iraq. The Iraq officials allegedly bribed were not named. The SFO also issued extradition proceedings against Unaoil Chief Operations Officer Saman Ahsani.

On 30 July 2020 Stephen Whiteley, the company’s former territory manager for Iraq was sentenced to 3 years in prison. Ziad Akle, another former Iraq territory manager, received 5 years in prison.

Basrah Gas Company

Information downloaded from BGC website 5 April 2021

BGC is a public/private joint venture, unique in Iraq. It is made up of South Gas Company, the majority shareholder, Shell and Mitsubishi.

Ali Shamara



The whistleblower has supplied additional evidence and information.

A further article is in the pipeline. and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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