ShellNews.net: Dynamite Email from Shell insider: “I am a Shell employee but of late we not allowed anymore to freely ventilate our concerns to management by fear which reigns inside the company. Therefore I take the unusual step to send this email to you from my home address and trust you will keep me anonymous.”: “The last few weeks there has been a great number of articles on Sakhalin and other disasters on your site. The one that made me write this email was the interview with Linda Cook.”: “…the ‘poodle’ of Phil Watts…”: Monday 28 November 2005: 09.45am EDT
EMAIL CONTRIBUTION: RECEIVED 28 November 2005: ALFRED DONOVAN CONFIRMS THE AUTHENTICITY OF THIS EMAIL. THE INDIVIDUAL IN QUESTION IS KNOWN TO ME AS A RELIABLE SOURCE OF ROYAL DUTCH SHELL INSIDE INFORMATION.
I am a Shell employee but of late we not allowed anymore to freely ventilate our concerns to management by fear which reigns inside the company. Therefore I take the unusual step to send this email to you from my home address and trust you will keep me anonymous.
The last few weeks there has been a great number of articles on Sakhalin and other disasters on your site. The one that made me write this email was the interview with Linda Cook. The total arrogance became too much to bear. So, here some views that may interest you.
|(Photo: Linda Cook: Courtesy of Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies)|
Before she moved for a short spell to Canada, she was the ‘poodle’ of Phil Watts. Each time he appeared on business TV (for internal communication with the Shell companies) or other gatherings, she was never more than 2 m away, looking up admirably at all times and lapping up his words. She definitely is of the type: ‘whatever interests my boss, fascinates me’. Watts even made another faux pas (one of many) by telling a group of analysts at one time ‘you are now looking at the first woman to go into the CMD’. He clearly had no mandate to say so, it was not even his decision and he should have been reprimanded for that stupid remark. She admired him even more after that.
Her statement: ‘With hindsight, it is clear that Shell underestimated the enormous challenges involved in Sakhalin’ shows she (and the others in the top of Shell) has been completely disconnected with the realities at the coalface. It was common knowledge within Shell by early 2004 that there would be significant cost overruns (20-30%). And by May 2005 it was widely known and internally discussed that it would be much worse. But Jeroen v.d.Veer, an extremely bright and genuinely pleasant personality (I disagree with you baiting him!), claimed he did not know. If the top did not know, they should be removed, it is their business to know. And if they knew, they have lied and therefore also must be removed. To me this is basic logic.
When people like Cook start talking about building morale, it makes me scared. Beating a very large organisation into submission is no small achievement, but how sustainable is it? Enron, Baan, Ahold and several others managed for a while, but the outcome is always inevitable.
And on Sakhalin, I only read about cost overruns and grey whales. Your recent publication of the WWF story (Risky Business) proves a point: many shortcuts were taken to meet the project deadlines. It is a mammoth task to do a project like Sakhalin and one needs all resources pulling in the same direction to get it fixed. And one also needs total honesty inside the company whereby bad news can travel fast. But if any criticism is seen as a personal attack and lack of loyalty, it soon stops and festers below the surface. I know that even 5 years ago, when the formal cost figure for Sakhalin was still under U$10 billion, it was stated by several engineers on the project that changes or improvements could not be made anymore since ‘we are already on a schedule driven project’. This was before the FID (Final Investment Decision). And there were (and still are) many severe technical flaws in the designs. These will become visible during the drilling and production phase. By that time, many of the culprits will have retired or moved on.
The Shell top will most certainly state that their door is always open and this is a story of a frustrated engineer which should be ignored. We all know that the ‘Overpromise and Underdelivery Cycle’ as mentioned in your earlier postings, is alive and kicking. It is exactly that attitude which has put Shell in the crisis it currently is.
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*ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alfred Donovan has had business dealings with Shell stretching back almost 50 years. In the 1980’s & 90’s the sales promotion company he founded with his son, John (Don Marketing) created and supplied multimillion dollar national promotions for Shell on an international basis. He and his son probably hold the world record for suing Shell, having subsequently brought a series of court actions: five for breach of confidence or breach of contract, and two for libel. They have never lost a case against Shell. Details about the litigation are published on ShellNews.net, the unique website owned by the Donovan’s. It contains the world’s largest collection of articles, news and reports focused on Royal Dutch Shell and its activities – astonishingly, over 6,000 web pages. Mr Donovan own and uses the registration to the dotcom domain name for Shell’s unified $200 billion (USD) company: Royal Dutch Shell Plc (royaldutchshellplc.com). Shell made an unsuccessful attempt to seize it by instituting proceedings via the World Intellectual Property Organisation in May 2005. A WIPO panel gave a unanimous verdict in favour of Mr Donovan in August.
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