Shell North Sea Management Scandal between 1999 and 2003: Article by
a “Shell Insider”: 10 July 2006
There are many thousands of Shell employees around the world who strive to work
honestly and very hard to comply with the Shell published Codes and Standards of
business. They will be devastated to hear that a “Bandit” group of about six
Managers, from the very top downwards, have been able to bypass all the checks
and balances built in to prevent wrong doings and have been circumventing these
controls for such a long time without detection. I think the message to them is
“check your back yard and make sure the same thing is not happening to you “.
Did Shell allow a disastrous lapse in safety standards in the lead up to being
audited by Shell International in 1999 and again between 1999 and 2003? All
indications are yes they did.
The results of the 1999 audit were accepted, but nothing was done and the modus
operandi of non-compliance with the approved Safety Case continued until 2003
when two lives were lost. If the findings of Bill Campbell’s 1999 audit had been
acted on in correctly, then all the Brent Platform would have been gleaming in
every way possible by 2003. The 2003 post accident audit uncovered an even worse
situation prompting massive budget allocation to “put things right”, an after
the event or Company image damage limitation exercise. Decide for yourself after
reading Bill Campbell’s “right of reply”
Bill Campbell whom I have known all of his 24 years in Shell is a person if you
were in trouble he would help you in any aspect he could. His description in
some of the media articles as a safe pair of hands does not do him justice. He
is a greater man than I.
Following the BBC Scotland “The Human Price of Oil” screened on 14 June 2006
Shell issued statements to the media and world wide Staff inferring that Bill
Campbell was disillusioned and emotional ex employee trying to undermine the
Shell Groups good name. Shell went as far as threatening legal action against
one media source if it published any more articles.
Following the Cullen recommendations implementation period, Safety Operational
Management Cases were written, procedural documents were written and
communicated to all levels of Staff on and offshore. Massive hardware changes
were made to comply with the ALERP principles. Operating parameters were laid
down with stringent procedures to guide us all on what we could do and not do.
Variations had to be assessed and fully discussed and approved at the
appropriate level before any changes were permitted. A fully traceable paper
trail was in place for everything.
So what happened pre audit 1999, and in the period 1999 – 2003?
Management had changed, re-organisations had taken place, many Shell positions
had been replaced by Contractors. The new Shell Europe was about to be created.
At this stage staff had to re-apply for their jobs, and there were not enough
jobs available for everyone. Who in this climate would stand up against an
all-powerful “bandit” - no one it seems. Failure to comply with the Safety Case
went unchallenged after all Brent had high up times and even were rated as best
in class by a Mackenzie survey! Things were very good or were they. Many
corroded and leaking hydrocarbon carrying pipes were temporally repaired with
neoprene strips and hose clips called “patches”. Budget was refused time and
time again. The patch which failed resulting in the September fatal release of
hydrocarbons was on the job list for replacement during the summer 2003 shut
down but was deferred. The offshore staff had long ago given up the fight and
accepted the situation. A classic and well documented case of “Human reliance on
defective equipment” (refer to the HSE 2001/53 report on this subject).
Bill Campbell even tried to get evidence to the Fatal Accident Enquiry but his
attempt was judged very interesting but not relevant due to the time intervals.
It appears that the Technical ability of the persons advising the Procurator
Fiscal failed to make the importance of the connection between audits and
refused to allow Bills contribution.
Shell clearly failed in its duty to operate its North Sea Assets according to
the approved Safety Case. Shell has attempted to refute the contents of its own
internal audits driven by the same “Bandits” who failed to take action when they
should have done in 1999.
This group are despicable and dangerous men requiring external pressures to
ensure they are brought to justice thus exposing them to the full force of the
Law together with Public opinion not forgetting the wrath of the Shareholders
Name, background details and email address supplied on a confidential basis.
Two HSE documents were supplied with this article. They are accessible via the
Acrobat Reader is needed to access the HSE reports
below. Please be patient when downloading.
To download a FREE Acrobat Reader click on the
Preventing the propagation of error and misplaced
reliance on faulty systems: A guide to human error dependency
HSE: Temporary/permanent pipe repair - Guidelines
Click here to return
Click here to return
Click here to return to Royal Dutch Shell Group .com