Royal Dutch Shell Group .com SHELL’S PREDICTABLE IRISH STEW: Some well-informed advice for the Corrib pipeline protestors: Wednesday 3 August 2005


By John Donovan


On Monday, Irish Natural Resources Minister Noel Dempsey said that Shell must dismantle the Corrib pipeline. On Tuesday he gave consent for another part of the pipeline to be constructed? Does this mean that today, Wednesday, some of the workers who have just been made redundant will now be rehired?


It would be verging on farce if the situation was not so serious, bearing in mind the incarceration of the Rossport 5 for courageously letting their principles stand in the way of an aggressive and incompetent multinational goliath.   


Concerns over an inept Shell management have been heightened by the reserves scandal and massive cost overruns in other controversial Shell projects - Sakhalin-2 in Russia ($10 billion dollars), Athabasca oil sands in Canada and Bonga in Nigeria.


According to a recent article in The Guardian newspaper (published on 29 July) the "Rossport Five" were jailed at the specific request of Shell, which had obtained compulsory purchase orders for the land in question – apparently the first time in Irish history that such an order was granted to a private company. This seems to be an incredible situation whereby a rogue multinational has been allowed to steamroller over the human rights of  Irish citizens.


As readers of my previous articles on the Irish Corrib pipeline project may recall, I made three predictions at the outset. Firstly I forecast that the project would turn into another PR disaster for Shell. Secondly, I predicted that the Irish government would turn on Shell. I also warned that Shell would probably use undercover agents to gather intelligence and engage in other sinister activities against the protest group. By the very nature of covert operations, we may never know if that prediction has also been fulfilled.


My father and I have been involved in bouts of litigation with Shell for over a decade. Proceedings are currently underway in relation to our website, which features over 5000 web pages of articles and information about Shell, including leaked Shell internal documents.


Shell has launched proceedings against my father, Alfred Donovan, via the World Intellectual Property Organisation in Geneva in respect of domain names registered by him and used on our website since last year (without any previous complaint by Shell). The relevant domain names include which happens to be the name of Shell's new unified $200 billion dollar company: Royal Dutch Shell Plc. It seems that someone at Shell neglected to register the name. 


The other current litigation is much more serious in nature and has relevance to the situation in Ireland – in particular whether Shell can be trusted over the safety of the Corrib pipeline. Eight Royal Dutch Shell companies obtained a Malaysian High Court injunction in relation to revelations and comments posted on our website by a former Shell geologist of almost 30 years standing, Dr John Huong. He blew the whistle on Shell’s alleged lax attitude to important safety issues concerning a helicopter fleet and the Kinabalu oil platform. Dr Huong concerns proved justified when a Shell helicopter carrying several employees recently crashed into the sea off Sarawak, fortunately without any fatalities. Dr Huong also put into writing his objection to Shell deceiving its shareholders over oil reserves. Documentary evidence indicates that Shell management ignored his warnings. Bearing this in mind, Dr Huong could perhaps provide useful testimony in respect of the safety aspects of the Corrib pipeline litigation?


Shell sacked Dr Huong because he displayed a social conscience on the above issues and insisted on working within Shell’s own ethical code – its Statement of General Business Principles, pledging honesty, integrity and openness in all of Shell’s dealings. Shell has more recently threatened Dr Huong with imprisonment in a further effort to silence him. Dr Huong is suing Shell for wrongful dismissal.


Returning to the subject of undercover activities, Dr Huong has concerns about possible interference with his communications and over a series of suspicious burglaries at his home.


My own past litigation with Shell was riddled with witness intimidation, a series of suspicious burglaries, even at the home of my solicitor and encounters with fake journalists. As I have previously reported, Shell Legal Director Richard Wiseman admitted in writing the activities of one undercover agent who engaged in outright deception on Shell’s behalf using a cover story and false credentials (a fake business card). 


Consequently, the Corrib protestors would certainly be well advised to check the credentials of anyone purporting to be a journalist working on a story about the controversy. Claimed credentials should not be taken at face value. A telephone call to the editor of the relevant publication can confirm the person’s identity.


In an earlier article dated 11 July, I mentioned that Shell has a history of using undercover agents to target its perceived enemies and cited its connection with Hakluyt, a private spy firm set up by former senior MI6 officers. Senior Shell directors were directors/shareholders in Hakluyt, which many UK MP’s believe to be the commercial arm of the British Secret Service. I also mentioned a front page story in The Sunday Times revealing the Shell/Hakluyt association and the fact that a German secret service agent had worked for Shell/Hakluyt on a freelance basis.

MI6 'Firm' Spied on Green Groups (Sunday Times archive article 17 June 2001)


It is interesting to note in this connection comments made in the recently published book “SHELL SHOCK – THE SECRETS AND SPIN OF AN OIL GIANT”. Chapter 10 entitled “DEATH ON THE DELTA” recounts the events which led to the murder of the Nobel Laureate and peace activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa.


At the time Shell was in cohorts with the then military dictatorship in Nigeria and was faced with growing public protests (echoes of the situation in Ireland) against the despoliation and exploitation of the Nigerian Delta by Shell and other oil companies. The protests were organised in part by Ken Saro-Wiwa (who has been described as the Nigerian Gandhi).


The book describes the Shell/Nigerian government relationship as “an unholy alliance between a corrupt government in far off Lagos and a multinational company which gave a very good impression of being quite impervious to the despoliation they were inflicting…” Mention is also of Shell’s “secret surveillance of Ken Saro-Wiwa…” This ties up with the information in the Sunday Times article which reports that Shell’s undercover operations involving Ken Saro-Wiwa continued even after he and a number of his colleagues – all found guilty on trumped-up charges - were hanged. There is only one word which comes to mind to describe that kind of conduct.


Another book about Shell's conduct in Nigeria also mentions Shell's use of undercover operations. "WHERE VULTURES FEAST: SHELL. HUMAN RIGHTS, AND OIL" was published in 2002. On page 59, the authors detail information about Shell's armed private police force in Nigeria which "engaged in undercover operations on behalf of the oil company". The clandestine activity was carried out on Shell's instructions. (click on link below for more remarkable information about Shell's atrocious conduct in Nigeria)

Mail on Sunday: Shell chief 'had a private army' 


It would be surprising in view of Shell’s track record in dealing with organized protest activity if its agents/employees have not already engaged in infiltration and/or intelligence gathering in respect of the Corrib pipeline debacle.


It appears that Shell has already misled the Irish courts concerning claimed government consent over the pipeline work already undertaken, which they have now been ordered to dismantle. It is difficult to see how such conduct could be in accordance with Shell’s previously mentioned Statement of General Business Principles, but Shell Legal Director, Richard Wiseman has confirmed in writing to me that the principles have no legal standing in the courts. Like a bet with a bookie, they are binding in honour only. Since Shell management has a track record of dishonourable conduct they are unfortunately not worth the paper they are written on.


Unfortunately there is no point in seeking the intervention of Shell Exploration & Production boss Malcolm Brinded. He is not a man of integrity. Mr Brinded walked over to introduce himself to me at a Shell AGM soon after he had been appointed as Country Chairman of Shell UK Limited. Shortly thereafter I brought to his personal attention (in writing) the fact that I had discovered irrefutable Shell documents proving a conspiracy by Shell managers in the awarding of a major contract by Shell UK Limited. 36 companies had participated in a tender process for the contract.


At a later stage in the tender, a number of short listed companies were deliberately deceived into carrying out more work even though Shell had already decided to reject them from the process. Eventually the contract was given to a company which had never been in the tender process. It happened to be a company with whom the Shell manager masterminding the tender process had close personal connections. The manager in question claimed to have the support of Shell senior management for his dishonest activities. I invited Shell senior management to disavow their claimed support. Mr Brinded ignored the evidence and the invitation. A Shell manager, Mr Frank Leggatt when later cross-examined under oath in the London High Court agreed that the deliberate deception was improper. Mr Leggatt had no involvement in the dishonest activities.


Mr Brinded has responsibly for the entire previously mentioned Shell E & P project overruns. It is no wonder that there has been speculation in the newspapers about his future with Shell. He also signed false declarations to the US Securities & Exchange Commission in regards to Shell's inflated reserves. He is a named defendant in a major US Class Action lawsuit alleging fraud in respect of the reserves debacle. Other investigations are still in progress. This unfortunately is the ethically flawed man (second in command at Royal Dutch Shell Plc) who has the overriding executive responsibility for the Corrib project in Ireland.


Based on my experience with Shell it could pay dividends in terms of further international publicity if protests about the Corrib pipeline project could be mounted at the Shell Centre in London and at the HQ of Royal Dutch Shell Plc in The Hague. We also found it to be the most effective way of making an impact on Shell senior management.


Both of the books referred to above can be purchased on Amazon.


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