HSE email regarding Bill Campbell and the Brent Fatal Accident Inquiry: 6 Aug 2006


By Alfred Donovan


An interested party who we will not identity recently drew to the attention of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), documents published on ShellNews.net regarding Bill Campbell, the former Group Auditor of Shell International.  The documents in question related to the Shell Brent scandal and the associated Fatal Accident Inquiry.


A number of individuals, who have expert knowledge of the issues involved, including Bill Campbell, may be surprised at the content of the self-explanatory emailed reply.  It would seem that Shell is not the only party operating in an environment of extreme denial (to paraphrase the words of Bill Campbell in relation to his former employer).


Printed below is the response email from a senior HSE official, followed by our comments.

Email response from Ian Whewell, Acting Head of Division, Health & Safety Executive

Dear Sir/ Madam


Thank you for your e-mail of 19th July to HSE's information line. Thank you also for drawing my attention to documentation on the www.shellnews.net web-site. You may not be aware but Mr Campbell has also included HSE in all correspondence and the documentation and information you refer to HSE already has in its possession.


You suggest that my statement, following the publication of the Sheriff's determination into the double fatality on the Brent Bravo platform may not be correct. You perhaps have drawn that conclusion on the assumption that HSE at the time of the investigation was not in possession of the material you refer to. As I have indicated HSE was in possession of this information including the results of the review of temporary pipework repairs carried out immediately after the incident.


I am therefore confident that all aspects of HSE's statement are correct.


Thank you for your interest and concern.






Ian Whewell

Acting Head of Division

Health & Safety Executive

Lord Cullen House

Fraser Place


AB25 3UB

Tel:   (01224) 252501

Fax:  (01224) 252555



or Contact HSE Infoline on 0845 345 0055 or Email on hse.infoline@natbrit.com

HSE email ends…


It is salient to recall this extract from an HSE Statement dated 19 July 2006 made by the same HSE official, Ian Whewell.


“Health and safety law provides a comprehensive framework to regulate offshore risks. Its primary requirement is that those who create these risks are responsible for managing them. This means ensuring potential dangers are identified and systems of work put into place to reduce dangers to the lowest practicable level. HSE enforces the law robustly and will continue to do so against any company that fails to manage and control the risks it creates.”


 Ian Whewell
 Acting Head of Division
 Health & Safety Executive

ShellNews.net is advised that HSE inspectors visited Brent Bravo before the accident and they found no faults!  This was despite the platform having known defects in the critical safety equipment e.g. some ESD valves not functioning others with failed leak off tests by 2000%, numerous non-approved, and most certainly well outside any of HSE's own guidance notes, "Mickey Mouse" patches on hydrocarbon pipe work and large sections of the Fire & Gas detection systems inoperative or inhibited, emergency call buttons not working, fire pumps capacity below requirement and lying un-repaired. Meanwhile, uninterrupted, millions of cubic meters of gas and oil were being exported every day. 


We are told that: "The HSE has the responsibility of enforcing the law robustly..."  


but self-evidently failed to do so for a lengthy period prior to the 1999 audit of Brent Bravo and again covering the period 1999 - 2003. 


I will be eternally grateful that the Offshore Division of the HSE in Aberdeen have no connection with the enforcement of regulations covering Civil Aviation, as I would never fly again!


Sheriff Colin Harris during his fatal accident enquiry excluded vital information as it was considered outside the scope of the hearing, he suggested that would be for a separate enquiry to consider. (see the evidence the Sheriff did not consider


Who may we ask is going to conduct this enquiry; the HSE should, as they state they will enforce the law robustly, but will they and if so, when? 


The HSE were aware that Shell Platforms were being operated outside the Safety Cases but when their inspectors visited they could not find any problems hence the all the smoke, mirrors, bluster and excuses following the fatal accident in 2003. 


It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that HSE inspectors were not competent enough to discharge their duties. The same appears to apply to the Certifying Authority, who knowingly signed off work as completed when in fact it was still not completed a year later.


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