Royal Dutch Shell Group .com Royal Dutch Shell Whistleblower, Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong, offers insider evidence to the Shell Brent Bravo Public Inquiry: Wednesday 17 August 2005


Royal Dutch Shell Whistleblower, Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong, offers insider evidence to the Shell Brent Bravo Public Inquiry


By John Donovan of


Information has reached us that Shell whistleblower, Dr John Huong, is in correspondence with the Scottish Authorities and has offered to give evidence to the recently announced Brent Bravo Public Inquiry into the deaths of two Shell employees on the Brent Bravo oil platform.


In April, Shell was fined £900,000 after admitting blunders leading to the deaths of two offshore workers Mr Moncrieff, of Invergowrie, Dundee, and Mr McCue, of Kennoway, Fife. Both were tragically suffocated by an escape of gas while inspecting a patch on a safety-critical pipeline in the leg of the platform.


Dr Huong has served as the Production Geologist for Shell in the Kinabalu oil and gas field and claims that he was eventually dismissed after first raising concerns over safety issues on the Kinabalu platform and subsequently in respect of a fleet of Shell helicopters, after he had been reassigned as an asset integrity engineer.


It may be difficult for Dr Huong to give evidence because he is currently the subject of an ongoing Malaysian High Court Injunction obtained collectively by eight Royal Dutch Shell companies. This has the effect of suppressing his fundamental rights to freedom of expression and may prevent him from disclosing to the Public Inquiry his insider knowledge of the secretive world of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, including the corporate culture of deceit and cover-up which led to the reserves scandal. Shell has even threatened him with imprisonment in its desperate efforts to silence him.


Dr Huong was a Shell geologist for almost 30 years before he blew the whistle on Shell management’s contempt for Health and Safety issues and its disregard of his conscience driven concerns, expressed in a Shell internal document, about misleading shareholders in relation to Shell's hydrocarbon reserves.


It is interesting to note that early in June 2004, Dr Huong recommended that Shell Transport and Royal Dutch should be merged into one unified company. He is obviously a man of wisdom and with considerable foresight!



Dr. John Huong - Former Shell Geologist of almost 30 years standing
(Photograph Courtesy of The Borneo Post)


I have integrated my personal insights as seen from the perspective of a former Shell employee – a Shell geologist for almost 30 years - who was unfairly axed by Shell management. I was punished because I insisted on working within the ethical boundaries of Shell’s “Statement of General Business Principles” (SGBP) which is supposed to protect shareholder, national and other stakeholder interests.


When I started with Shell all those years ago I was proud to be an employee of what I considered to be nothing less than the best company in the world; an internationally respected brand and an equally highly respected management. It is a matter of the deepest regret to me that the company has sunk so low with its management acquiring global notoriety for participating in a disgraceful scandal which ranks alongside the likes of Enron and WorldCom.


Dr Huong quoting from an email: "In my experience Shell directors” and Shell managers, “believe that truth is a precious commodity to be used as a last resort. It has to be squeezed out of them. They prefer to deceive, make empty pledges  (Shell's code of ethics), intimidate,” ostracize, “hide information from their own shareholders”, employees, the government who gave them the license to operate and, and finally “retreating behind their army of lawyers” for shelter “whenever there is a prospect that management misdeeds will be exposed."


I was not the only member of staff at Shell who was fired for up-holding Shell’s SGBP. That document had caused untold damage and suffering to many Shell employees. I strongly suggest that Shell suspends the SGBP until such time as Shell management is prepared to honour the noble pledges proclaimed therein. In other words, until the written pledges of integrity and transparency are matched by the actions of Shell management. 


Shell’s ethical code was and is not worth listening to unless top management becomes a role model for integrity and transparency. Under current circumstances what is the point of having an annual ritual performed for the CEO at operating companies, where it is a mandatory requirement for staff to sign off their ethical health forms (ie Conflict of Interest) irrespective of compliance with Shell’s Statement of General Business Principles”.  


If a company loses the trust and respect of its shareholders, employees, and customers, as Shell Management has done on a truly spectacular basis, then there's only going to be a rather empty shell left.  It will obviously be a very long time before Shell could ever again use the famous advertising slogan "you can be sure of Shell". 


More recently, I have also written numerous times to Mr. Jeroen van der Veer and Mr. Malcolm Brinded, of the Shell Group and other senior management under the umbrella of the Royal Dutch Shell Group. All of these letters were ignored. How could Shell management treat me so despicably, so shabbily, after I had worked for Shell so loyally and with such diligence for almost three decades?   


Not too long ago, I provided to Shell Management insights of my extensive knowledge of what actually goes on behind the wall of secrecy and intimidation imposed on Shell employees. This was in a letter entitled - "The Truth Behind the Royal Dutch Shell Group icon”. 


Dr Huong's message to investors: Investors - “You cannot be sure of Shell” growing your funds. Potential employees – do not trust your career and aspirations to Shell until you understand the true inside story.  If Shell is unwilling to undergo radical change at every level in the organization for the better, Shell’s negative and evil ingrained cultures will ultimately destroy the little which remains of its former reputation.  


It is ironic: If only Shell management had abided by its own ethical code – the SGBP, the humiliating reserves scandal, the results of which will inevitably drag on for many years with the investigations and ruinous class action law suits, could never have occurred. As God is my witness, that is the truth.  


I am finding it hard to come to terms with the con-artist mentality of a management which thought it could say one thing in speeches and advertising – pledging “Profits and Principles” - honesty, openness, integrity etc and actually get away and rewarded with doing the exact opposite.   


My recipe for recovery:  Every single member of Shell senior management who is implicated in or tainted to the least extent by the reserves debacle should do the honorable thing and resign immediately. That includes Mr van der Veer and Mr Malcolm Brinded.  Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell Transport and Trading should be merged into one unified company – Shell with a single management structure.  It needs to have an entirely new management team and that will certainly have to think about  EXCLUDING  Mr. Jon Chadwick – consisting of individuals who have NO possible connection with past misdeeds and who possess the integrity and dedication essential to the considerable task of restoring Shell’s reputation; all of these ingredients are needed for a genuinely fresh start.  Only then would I be prepared to invest in Shell or to recommend anyone else to so.  


Some relevant extracts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (United Nations)  (


Article 1.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.


Article 5.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.


Article 12.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.


Article 19.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.


Article 23.

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.


This article is published under the universally recognised basic human rights of freedom of expression and freedom of speech.


Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong

10 June 2004 



Dr Huong was not only right in his unification recommendation. He has also been proved spectacularly correct in his comments about Shell management “retreating behind their army of lawyers” for shelter “whenever there is a prospect that management misdeeds will be exposed" bearing in mind that they subsequently brought a draconian defamation lawsuit to silence him.

Dr Huong must be puzzled why Shell has chosen to sue him, a Malaysian national for libel, but not Alfred Donovan, the British joint owner/operator of the website  on which the well-founded whistle-blower comments were published. In fact the Royal Dutch Shell Group has recently made the following extraordinary statement in a legal document in regards to this website: -

"The... Group... have been aware of the site since the beginning and whilst they would not endorse or agree with many of the comments made by the Respondent on the website, they have taken the view that the Respondent is entitled to express his opinions and to use the Internet as a medium for doing so."

Apparently this entitlement (and the above UN Declaration) does not extend to Malaysian nationals as far as Shell is concerned? Some people may wonder whether there is an element of racism involved?


The Borneo Post: Shell vs Dr John Huong trial adjourned to Nov 15: "Dr Huong, an ex-Shell employee, is suing the company, alleging that he was unfairly dismissed.": "Huong, a geologist by qualification, had worked with Shell for almost 30 years before his dismissal on March 28, 2003." Posted 23 June 2005: Read the article

THE BORNEO POST: Former employee suing Shell: "Dr John Huong, an ex-Shell employee, is suing Shell in the Industrial Court here, alleging that he had been unfairly dismissed by the company." Posted 22 June 2005: Read the article


Glasgow Evening Times: Tragedy rig in new safety scare: “A Shell spokesman said today the rig had been "downmanned" and that 86 workers had been flown to nearby Brent Charlie, Brent Delta and North Cormorant rigs.”: Tuesday 9 August 2005: Read the articl


The Times (UK): Rig evacuated after leak: “A North Sea oil platform where two workers were killed was at the centre of another safety scare yesterday after a leak was discovered in one of the rig’s legs.”: “In September 2003 Keith Moncrieff and Sean McCue died after a massive gas escape on board the Brent Bravo platform. Shell was later fined £900,000 after it admitted a series of breaches of health and safety regulations.”: Tuesday 9 August 2005: Read the article


THE SCOTSMAN: 86 evacuated from North Sea platform after oil leak from tank: “In April Shell was fined a record £900,000 for safety failings on the platform that led to the deaths of two workers.”: Tuesday 9 August 2005: Read the article


BBC News: Platform evacuated in leak alert: “Sixty staff remained on Shell's Brent Bravo platform and work was under way to repair the leak.”: “Offshore union leaders have expressed concern as Shell was recently fined £900,000 for a breach of health and safety on Brent Bravo, following the death of two offshore workers.”: “A fatal accident inquiry into that incident has still to be held.”: Monday 8 August 2005: Read the article


The Herald (Scotland): U-turn on Brent oil deaths inquiry: “Keith Moncrieff and Sean McCue died when they were exposed to hydrocarbon gases on the Brent Bravo platform on September 11, 2003. At Stonehaven Sheriff Court in March, Shell, the oil company, admitted three safety breaches which led to their deaths.”: Posted Wednesday 20 July 2005: Read the article


The Scotsman: Families welcome inquiry into North Sea gas leak: “Mr Moncrieff, 45, a mechanical technician, and Mr McCue, 22, a trainee operations technician, died when they were engulfed in a gas escape inside the platform's utility leg. Last April, at Stonehaven Sheriff Court, Shell was fined a record £900,000 for safety failings on the platform.”: Wednesday 20 July 2005: Read the article


BBC NEWS: Law chief orders rig deaths probe: “  The Lord Advocate said it would be in the "wider public interest" for an inquiry into the deaths of Keith Moncrieff and Sean McCue. They were killed on Shell's Brent Bravo platform in the North Sea in September 2003. Shell was later fined £900,000.”: "Shell admitted a series of health and safety breaches and was fined a record amount on a company following a North Sea accident.": Posted Wednesday 20 July 2005: Read the article


Daily Record (Scotland): OIL RIG DEATHS PROBE U-TURN: “In April, Shell were fined a record £900,000 after admitting blunders leading to the deaths of Mr Moncrieff, of Invergowrie, Dundee, and Mr McCue, of Kennoway, Fife.”: Posted Wednesday 20 July 2005: Read the article


Grampian TV (Scotland): FAI to be held into oil platform deaths: “Earlier this year Shell was fined a record nine hundred thousand pounds after admitting health and safety breaches. The Sheriff who heard the case said there had been a "substantial catalogue" of errors.”: Posted Wednesday 20 July 2005: Read the article


Glasgow Evening News: Inquiry into rig workers' deaths: “After the tragedy, operators Shell revised safety procedures and maintenance issues, admitting there were shortcomings.”: Posted 20 July 2005: Read the article


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