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Another departing Shell leader seeking redemption?

Another departing Shell leader seeking redemption?

By John Donovan

Departing Shell Plc CEO Ben van Beurden seems to be seeking redemption in his closing period with the energy giant.


BvB now admits that Shell should have pulled out of the controversial earthquake-blighted Groningen project operated by NAM – a Shell-Exxon joint venture company.

According to Reuters: “A damning report in 2015 from the independent Dutch Safety Board had accused the government and the field’s operators of ignoring the threat of earthquakes linked to the field for years.” 

As regular visitors to this website know, we have been drawing attention to the Groningen scandal for many years. Thousands of properties have been damaged. As a consequence, Dutch prosecutors are pursuing litigation against NAM. Tens of thousands of Groningen residents are eligible for compensation for earthquake damage.


BvB is apparently trying to change his image from being a greedy oil baron earning tens of millions, to a saintly person with a social coincidence. BvB is quoted as saying we may need to tax energy companies further to fund efforts to protect the “poorest” people from soaring bills.

His old boss Sir Philip Watts became a very rich vicar, after a payoff package from Shell worth nearly $20 million following the fraudulent over-statement of claimed oil and gas reserves that led to his forced resignation. Sir Philip was escorted out of the Shell Centre by security guards. What next? Is BvB going to follow in Sir Philip’s conscience-driven religious footsteps?


Van Beurden knows what failure looks like, as he was a personal assistant to former chairman Sir Philip Watts when Watts was axed over the reserves scandal of 2004.


I have supplied audio and transcript evidence of BvBs cover-up tactics in the OPL 245 Nigerian corruption scandal. His instruction in the covertly recorded call to CFO Simon Henry was at odds with Shell’s claimed core business principles. The call took place against the background of a police raid (and search for incriminating evidence being carried out at Shell’s then HQ in The Hague.

Perhaps past shocking events in Shell’s dark history, such as the above examples, sometimes give its leaders cause for reflection and redemption.

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