Royal Dutch Shell

3.3711235384485 (1967)
Posted by r2d2 03/02/2009 @ 06:47

Tags : royal dutch shell, energy and water, business

News headlines
Shell: Deer Park To Return To Normal Rates Over Weekend - Wall Street Journal
HOUSTON (Dow Jones)--Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) said Thursday that its Deer Park, Texas, refinery will return to normal processing rates over the weekend following a power outage on Monday. The hydrocracker and olefins units are continuing to startup...
Jordan, Shell to sign oil shale extraction deal on Sunday - Los Angeles Times
By AP AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — The official Petra news agency says Jordan and Royal Dutch Shell PLC will sign a deal Sunday to explore for oil in the country's extensive oil shale deposits. Hijazin says the concession agreement will be concluded on the...
Shell,CNPC Ink MoU,Agree On Shareholdings For Iraq Bid-Source - Wall Street Journal
BEIJING (Dow Jones)--Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB) has agreed on a shareholding structure with China National Petroleum Corp. ahead of a joint bid for a contract to develop an oil field in Iraq, a person familiar with the talks said....
Royal Dutch Shell profit drops 62% - MarketWatch
By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch LONDON (MarketWatch) -- Royal Dutch Shell on Wednesday said its first-quarter profit slumped 62% as the oil major become the latest firm to reveal how far its bottom line has weakened because of the slump in energy...
Europe Off A Bit - Forbes
Shares of Royal Dutch Shell ( RDSA - news - people ) fell 1.4%, to 18.00 pounds ($27.33), and BP ( BP - news - people ) fell 1.2%, to 504 pence ($7.65), in London. The Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50 index dropped .2%, to 2353.53 points, during afternoon...
BP Plans To Ship VLCC Of Forties To US Gulf - Trade - Wall Street Journal
The Leander, chartered by Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA), has been moored off Southwold, England, for Forties storage for more than five months. It is scheduled to arrive at Scapa Flow, Scotland, on May 17. On the same day, the VLCC Front Shanghai will...
Norwegian Draugen Oil Field Due Back In A Few Days - Shell - Wall Street Journal
LONDON (Dow Jones)--Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB.LN) Wednesday said its Draugen oil field in Norway is expected back online within a couple of days after a two-week maintenance shutdown. "Draugen is due to be back within a few days....
Shell's sustainability plan emphasizes biofuels, CCS - New York Times
By NATHANIAL GRONEWOLD, Greenwire NEW YORK -- Royal Dutch Shell PLC plans to focus its "clean energy" efforts on biofuels and developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology while pulling back from investments in solar and wind, Shell's CEO said...
US Refinery Status: Total Port Arthur Reduces Rates - Capital.gr (press release)
Two crude units at Royal Dutch Shell's (RDSA) joint venture refinery in Deer Park, Texas are running at planned rates following a power and steam outage Monday, the company said Tuesday afternoon. Sinclair Oil Corp. continues to clean up a weekend...

Royal Dutch Shell

Shell logo.svg

Royal Dutch Shell plc, commonly known simply as Shell, is a multinational oil company of Dutch and British origins. It is the second largest private sector energy corporation in the world, and one of the six "supermajors" (vertically integrated private sector oil exploration, natural gas, and petroleum product marketing companies). The company's headquarters are in The Hague, Netherlands, with its registered office in London (Shell Centre).

The company's main business is the exploration for and the production, processing, transportation, and marketing of hydrocarbons (oil and gas). Shell also has a significant petrochemicals business (Shell Chemicals), and an embryonic renewable energy sector developing wind, hydrogen and solar power opportunities. Shell is incorporated in the UK with its corporate headquarters in The Hague, its tax residence is in Netherlands, and its primary listings on the London Stock Exchange and Euronext Amsterdam (only "A" shares are part of the AEX index).

Forbes Global 2000 in 2007 ranked Shell the eighth largest company in the world. Also in 2007, Fortune magazine ranked Shell as the third-largest corporation in the world, behind Wal-Mart and ExxonMobil.

Shell operates in over 140 countries. In the United States, its Shell Oil Company subsidiary, headquartered in Houston, Texas, United States, is one of Shell's largest businesses.

The Royal Dutch Shell Group of companies was created in February 1907 when the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company (legal name in Dutch, N.V. Koninklijke Nederlandsche Petroleum Maatschappij) and the "Shell" Transport and Trading Company Ltd of the United Kingdom merged their operations – a move largely driven by the need to compete globally with the then predominant American oil company, John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil. The terms of the merger gave 60% of the new Group to the Dutch arm and 40% to the British and is now mostly seen as a Dutch company in line with the original ownership. To celebrate its centenary in 2007 Shell launched a scholarship fund.

Royal Dutch Petroleum Company was a Dutch company founded in 1890 by Jean Baptiste August Kessler, along with Henri Deterding and Texaco, when a Royal charter was granted by King William III of the Netherlands to a small oil exploration and production company known as "Royal Dutch Company for the Working of Petroleum Wells in the Dutch Indies" (now Indonesia).

The "Shell" Transport and Trading Company (the quotation marks were part of the legal name) was a British company, founded in 1897 by Marcus Samuel and his brother Samuel Samuel. Initially the Company commissioned eight oil tankers for the purposes of transporting oil.

In 1919, Shell took control of the Mexican Eagle Petroleum Company and in 1921 formed Shell-Mex Limited which marketed products under the "Shell" and "Eagle" brands in the United Kingdom. In 1932, partly in response to the difficult economic conditions of the times, Shell-Mex merged its UK marketing operations with those of British Petroleum to create Shell-Mex and BP Ltd, a company that traded until the brands separated in 1975.

In November 2004, following a period of turmoil caused by the revelation that Shell had been overstating its oil reserves, it was announced that the Shell Group would move to a single capital structure, creating a new parent company to be named Royal Dutch Shell plc, with its principal listing on the London Stock Exchange and the Amsterdam Stock Exchange and its headquarters and tax residency in The Hague in the Netherlands. The unification was completed on 20 July 2005. Shares were issued at a 60/40 advantage for the shareholders of Royal Dutch in line with the original ownership of the Shell Group.

In November 2007 Shell acquired a majority stake in some gas fields owned by Regal Petroleum in Ukraine.

The origin of the brand name Shell is linked to the origins of The Shell Transport and Trading Company. In 1833, the founder's father, also Marcus Samuel, founded an import business to sell seashells to London collectors. When collecting seashell specimens in the Caspian Sea area in 1892, the younger Samuel realized there was potential in exporting lamp oil from the region and commissioned the world's first purpose-built oil tanker, the Murex (Latin for a type of snail shell), to enter this market; by 1907 the company had a fleet. Although for several decades the company had a refinery at Shell Haven on the Thames, there is no evidence of this having provided the name.

The Shell brand is one of the most familiar commercial symbols in the world. Known as the "pecten" after the sea shell Pecten maximus (the giant scallop), on which its design is based, the current version of the brand was designed by Raymond Loewy and introduced in 1971. The yellow and red colours used are thought to relate to the colours of the flag of Spain as Shell built early service stations in the state of California which had strong connections with Spain.

The slash was removed from the name "Royal Dutch/Shell" in 2004.

One of the original Seven Sisters, Royal Dutch Shell is the world's second-largest private sector oil company by revenue, Europe's largest energy group and a major player in the petrochemical industry.

Shell has five core businesses: Exploration and Production (the "upstream"), Gas and Power, Refining and Marketing, Chemicals (the "downstream"), and Trading/Shipping, and operates in more than 140 countries.

Shell's primary business is the management of a vertically integrated oil company. The development of technical and commercial expertise in all the stages of this vertical integration from the initial search for oil (exploration) through its harvesting (production), transportation, refining and finally trading and marketing established the core competencies on which the Group was founded. Similar competencies were required for natural gas, which has become one of the most important businesses in which Shell is involved, and which contributes a significant proportion of the company's profits.

While in the past the vertically integrated business model gave significant economies of scale and provided Shell with the opportunity to establish barriers to entry both geographically and on a more global scale, this has been less a possibility in more recent times. As a result although the vertical integration remains there is much less interdependence between the businesses and each is now charged with being a self-supporting independent business without cross subsidies from other parts of the business chain.

Shell's oil and gas business is increasingly an assembly of independent and globally managed business segments each of which must be profitable in its own right. This can be a source of criticism, as some consumers see huge profits accruing from upstream income whilst price rises instituted by the independent downstream business anger motorists and other consumers.

The downstream, which now also includes the Chemicals business, generates a third of Shell's profits worldwide and is most recognised by its global networks of more than 40,000 petrol stations and its 47 oil refineries.

Over the years Shell has occasionally sought to diversify away from its core oil, gas and chemicals businesses. These diversifications have included nuclear power (a short-lived and costly joint venture with Gulf Oil in the USA); coal (Shell Coal was for a time a significant player in mining and marketing); metals (Shell acquired the Dutch metals-mining company Billiton in 1970) and electricity generation (a joint venture with Bechtel called Intergen). None of these ventures were seen as successful and all have now been divested.

In the early 2000s Shell moved into alternative energy and there is now an embryonic "Renewables" business that has made investments in solar power, wind power, hydrogen, and forestry. The forestry business went the way of nuclear, coal, metals and electricity generation, and was disposed of in 2003. In 2006 Shell sold its entire solar business and in 2008, the company withdrew from the London Array which is expected to become the world's largest offshore wind farm.

Shell also is involved in large-scale hydrogen projects. HydrogenForecast.com describes Shell's approach thus far as consisting of "baby steps", but with an underlying message of "extreme optimism".

In March 2007 it was announced that Mr. van der Veer's contract as CEO would be extended to June 2009, some twenty months beyond his normal Shell retirement date of October 2007.

On 29 October 2008, it was announced that Voser would succeed to the position of Chief Executive Officer effective 1 July 2009.

On 4 August 2005, the board of directors announced the appointment of Jorma Ollila, then Chairman and CEO of Nokia, to succeed Aad Jacobs as the company’s non-executive Chairman from 1 June 2006. Ollila is the first Shell Chairman to be neither Dutch nor British.

Other non-executive directors include Maarten van den Bergh, Wim Kok, Nina Henderson, Lord Kerr, Adelbert van Roxe, and Christine Morin-Postel.

Shell's compliance to corporate social responsibility also includes its LiveWIRE programme. This initiative has over 21 years experience of encouraging young people to start and develop their own businesses in the UK and elsewhere in the world (26 countries).

Shell has been criticised for its businesses in South Africa and Nigeria, notably in relation to protests of the Ogoni and Nigeria's execution of journalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who spoke out against what he viewed as Shell's destruction of his tribe's homeland. Militants in the delta enjoy widespread support as 20 million people remain rooted in poverty despite the enormous wealth generated in the oil-rich area, putting Nigeria among the leading Opec nations. Shell is the largest oil producer in Nigeria.

In the 1990s protesters criticized the company's attitude to the environment e.g. in relation to the disposal of the Brent Spar production platform in Britain.

Shell's response to the problems of Brent Spar and Nigeria was to launch an internal review of processes and an external communications campaign to persuade stakeholders of their commitment to corporate social responsibility. In response to criticism of its track record on environmental matters Shell published an unequivocal commitment to sustainable development, supported by executive speeches reinforcing this commitment. At the same time Shell Oil (the US subsidiary) was one of the first companies to leave the Global Climate Coalition, a lobby group which had opposed restrictions on greenhouse gases, and the Royal Dutch/Shell Group itself was never a member. Shell Chairman Philip Watts gave a 2003 speech in Houston calling for skeptics to get off the fence and take action "before it is too late". Shell is also a founding member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, which Watts led as Chairman in 2002/2003.

Delivering the annual business lecture hosted by Greenpeace in 2005, Shell chairman Lord Oxburgh said that we must act now on global warming or face a "disaster", and encouraged governments to provide a regulatory framework to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Shell has set up a global Internet-based facility for whistleblowers to report alleged violations of the law or of Shell General Business Principles, a voluntary code of ethics pledging transparency, integrity and honesty in all of Shell's business dealings. The introduction on the Global Helpline website says "Reporting and addressing suspected violations of the law or the Shell General Business Principles (SGBP) is of critical importance in protecting our reputation and the value of the Shell brand." Whistleblowers are asked to provide identity details but anonymous reports are also accepted. The Global Helpline operated by Global Compliance, Inc. is available to "customers, suppliers, partners, advisers and employees of Shell".

Much of Shell's reputation-building advertising concentrated on the embryonic renewable energy business whilst this remains a relatively small business compared to the core hydrocarbon extraction, processing and marketing operations. The corporate advertising campaign was (like a similar campaign by BP) described as "greenwash" by some non-governmental organization critics, but praised by other commentators. In response to questions which focused on the small percentage of its capital investment programme that was directed towards alternative energy Shell said that it would be "pointless" to say exactly how much of capital expenditure was going into renewable energy schemes. Chief Executive Officer Jeroen van der Veer indicated that the investment in renewables was small, saying it would be "throwing money away" to invest in alternative energy projects that were noncommercial and people could not afford to buy.

In 2004, a disclosure about the overstatement of oil reserves was seen as the most serious crisis encountered in the Group’s nearly 100 years of history. The Economist asked in an article dated 11 March 2004 whether Shell could be seen as "another Enron", but answered its own question with "importantly, Shell's shifting of reserves (from “proven” to “probable”) simply cannot be compared with the phantom profits and bogus assets booked by Enron. That is because the oil and gas actually still exists, and Shell still owns them as real, usable assets". The crisis led to the dismissal of the chairman of the Committee of Managing Directors Philip Watts, and prompted a major reorganisation of the Group.

A number of incidents over the years led to criticism of Shell's health and safety record, including repeated warnings by the UK Health and Safety Executive about the poor state of the company's North Sea platforms.

Traditionally, Shell was a heavily decentralised business worldwide (especially in the downstream) with operating companies in over 100 countries each of which operated with a high degree of independence. The upstream tended to be far more centralised with much of the detailed technical and financial direction coming from the central offices in The Hague. Nevertheless there were very large "Exploration and Production" companies in a small number of major oil and gas production centres such as the United Kingdom (Shell Expro, a Joint Venture with Exxon), Nigeria, Brunei, Oman etc.

The downstream business, which in some countries also included oil refining, generally included a retail petrol station network, lubricants manufacture and marketing, industrial fuel and lubricants sales and a host of other product/market sectors such as LPG, bitumen etc. The custom and practice in Shell was that these businesses were essentially local in character and that they were best managed by local "operating companies" – often with middle and senior management reinforced by expatriates. In the 1990s this paradigm began to change and the independence of operating companies around the world was gradually reduced and today virtually all of Shell’s operations in all of its various businesses are much more directly managed from London and The Hague. The autonomy of “operating companies” has been largely removed as more "global businesses" have been created in all sectors.

Through most of Shell's history, its business in the United States, Shell Oil Company was substantially independent with its stock ("Shell Oil") being traded on the NYSE and with little direct involvement from the Group’s central offices in the running of the American business. This also changed in the 1990s when Shell firstly bought out the shares in Shell Oil that they did not own and then took a more hands on approach in the running of the business. In Canada, also previously very independent, Shell has completed its purchase of the shares in Shell Canada that it did not own in order to apply the new global business model to its Canadian operations.

In Australia, retailer Coles Group (now part of Wesfarmers), purchased the rights to the retail business from the existing Shell Australia multi-site franchisees in 2003 for an amount less than A$100 million. This was in response to a popular discount fuel offer by rival Woolworths Limited launched some years earlier.

Coles Express' only affiliation with Shell is that Shell is the exclusive supplier of fuel and lubricant products, leases the service station property to Coles, and maintains the presence of the "pecten" and other Shell branding on the price board and other signage. Coles Express sets fuel and shop prices and runs the business, provides convenience and grocery merchandise through its supply chain and distribution network, and directly employs the service station staff.

On 27 August 2007, Royal Dutch Shell and Reitan Group, the owner of the 7-Eleven brand in Scandinavia, announced an agreement to rebrand some 269 service stations across Norway, Sweden and Denmark, subject to obtaining regulatory approvals under the different competition laws in each country.

As of 19 January 2009.

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Royal Dutch Shell environmental issues

Royal Dutch Shell is engaged in a variety of business activities across the world which of necessity involves the extraction, production, handling, processing, storage and transportation of hazardous products, including hydrocarbons and chemicals. On 13 May 2008, Shell released a report setting out ambitious plans to “meet the global energy challenge that can be summed up as more energy, less CO2”. The report describes Shell’s plans to invest in second generation biofuels and carbon capture and storage. It also discusses utilisation of natural gas and wind power combined with the necessity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and operational oil spills. The vast scale of operation means that even with the highest safety and maintenance standards in current and future activity, accidents and events arising from human error or misjudgement and or plant or equipment failure, are likely to occur. The record of past environmental incidents and events detailed in this article should be considered in that context.

This article focuses on Shell's environmental record.

On 7 November 2007 The Guardian published an article under the headline The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that a Shell advertisement featuring flower heads emerging from refinery chimneys implying the oil giant used its waste carbon dioxide to grow flowers, breached ASA rules. According to The Guardian article, “The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint that the press advert, which featured the drawing misleadingly implied all CO2 emissions helped produce flowers and decided it breached industry code clauses on truthfulness and environmental claims.” The article went on to say that the advert is no longer appearing and that Shell had informed the ASA it would not be used again. Shell stated in its response to the investigation, that it supplied 170,000 tonnes of CO2 to local greenhouse growers in 2005 and expected to supply a further 320,000 tonnes, explaining that this “stopped the equivalent of the annual CO2 emissions from about 102,894 vehicles being released”. The ASA ruling was also reported in The Independent. The Guardian covered the story again in a green themed article published on 21 January 2008.

On 16 May 2007, Bloomberg News reported that Royal Dutch Shell Plc had shut two ethylene plants at a Texas production complex after it lost steam power and released tons of chemicals into the air around Houston. The report went on to say that Shell’s Deer Park, Texas, complex lost steam from an external supplier on 2 May 2007 and that consequential shut-downs “resulted in the airborne release of dozens of contaminants, including 2,420 pounds of ethylene, 1,782 pounds of propylene, 1,622 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 4,700 pounds of volatile organic compounds” in the Houston area.

On 14 March 2007, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced that Shell Chemical Company has settled six years of environmental infringements with a $6.5 million agreement covering charges that “it violated air and other emissions standards between 1999 and 2003”. The settlement includes a $1 million fine which will go into the state's hazardous waste clean-up fund and $5.5 million which will be invested in beneficial environmental projects to reduce flare reduction systems at four Shell Chemical plants. Under the terms of the settlement Shell does not admit any wrongdoing and in mitigation pointed out that many of the violations were self-reported. DEQ Assistant Secretary Harold Leggett was quoted as saying: ‘‘This is an important settlement, not just because both parties have addressed past violations, but because we have also agreed to address the needs of the future.'' The improvements, to be located at the company's Norco plant, are scheduled to be completed by 2014. The agreement also calls for Shell Chemical Company to improve its leak detection and repair program at its plants in Norco, Taft and Geismar and a petroleum refining plant in St. Rose.

Shell Oil Company, along with many other defendants, has been sued in the USA by public water suppliers and governmental agencies, alleging responsibility for groundwater contamination caused by releases of gasoline containing oxygenate additives. Most of the lawsuits seek recovery of alleged damages and clean-up costs. Some claim punitive damages.

In October 2006, Shell Oil Company and a subsidiary company, Equilon Enterprises, agreed to pay $6.5 million in a lawsuit settlement with Riverside County California. The agreement included $3.6 million in civil penalties and ordered Shell and Equilon to stop any future violations of California state health and safety laws. The lawsuit alleged 56 state law infringements regarding maintenance of underground storage tanks and handling of hazardous materials and waste. Stephanie Weissman, Riverside County senior deputy district attorney with the office's Environmental Crimes Unit alleged leaks from underground gasoline storage tanks can contaminate groundwater and have long-term negative impact on the environment. According to a report published by the Press-Enterprise newspaper , “The court action stemmed from a discovery in 2003 by the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health Hazardous Materials Division that Equilon had failed to report or fix leaking underground storage tanks at three Coachella Valley gas stations.” The article went on to say that “Violations were later found at two other sites in western Riverside County”. Shell and Equilon, which owns and operates the gas stations, denied any wrongdoing. Equilon president, David Sexton, claimed in a statement that Shell had spent $55 million in the previous nine years to improve underground storage tanks and equipment at its gas stations in California. As part of the settlement, over $1 million is being spent by Equilon for the installation of sensors and locking mechanisms at its stations.

According to information on pages 146 and 147 of Shell’s Annual Report and Form 20 °F (−7 °C) for year ending 31 December 2006, there were approximately 69 pending lawsuits as of the 31 December 2006 date, asserting claims against SOC and other defendants including other major energy and refining companies. The report states that “In 19 of the lawsuits, plaintiffs allege aggregate compensatory damages of approximately $1.25 billion and aggregate punitive damages of approximately $3.35 billion.” Shell considers the amounts claimed by plaintiffs in the pleadings to be “highly speculative”. For this reason no financial provision has been made for the relevant cases. Shell also says that there are “significant unresolved legal questions”. The report states that monetary damages have not yet been claimed in the other 50 lawsuits.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on 16 March 2007 that Shell Oil Company and two railroad corporations must pay the costs of cleaning up a toxic waste site near Arvin the Central Valley, in California. The Court confirmed an earlier ruling regarding both the railroad corporations and Shell’s liability, deciding that “The railroads and Shell are jointly and severally liable for the harm at the Arvin site”. A local newspaper, the Central Valley Business Times, reported twenty years of leakage and spread of “Shell-produced agricultural chemicals: the soil fumigants D-D and Nemagon. D-D and Nemagon — members of a class of chemicals called nematocides hazardous materials in violation of several hazardous waste laws”. According to the newspaper report, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigated separately and found evidence of soil and groundwater contamination at an Arvin facility.

On 29 June 2007 The Bakersfield Californian newspaper reported that Shell Oil which had shut down on a temporary basis a soil cleanup operation at the Rosedale Highway refinery two years ago and had not restarted it despite repeated requests from state authorities. The article stated: “The shutdown had stalled efforts to clean up extensive groundwater contamination beneath the refinery, state officials said, allowing pollutants like MTBE, gasoline, diesel and benzene to seep further into the water table”. The oil refinery has been the site of many releases of oil and other petroleum products into the ground going back over two decades. In 1987 a pipeline leak resulted in an estimated 2 million gallons of partially refined fuel seeking into the ground. The leaks have continued with the most recent occurring in June 2007. On 27 August 2007, The Bakersfield Californian reported that California State Senator, Dean Florez, had "asked the state’s attorney general to take legal action against Shell for the company’s inaction".

On 5 August 2003, the United States Department of Justice announced that Shell Oil Company had agreed to pay $49 million USD “to settle claims under the False Claims Act and various administrative provisions relating to its unauthorized venting and flaring of gas...” at its Auger platform, located some 150 miles (240 km) off the coast of Louisiana and at other Shell facilities in the Gulf of Mexico. The settlement also resolved claims that Shell had failed to properly report, or pay royalties on the vented and flared gas. This was the third case settled by Shell Oil Company in the period 1999 to 2003 alleging that it had underpaid royalties owed to the United States. In 2000, Shell agreed to pay $56 million to settle claims that it undervalued gas produced from federal leases. Shell paid $110 million in 2001 to settle US Department of Justice claims that it undervalued crude oil extracted from federal lands.

The United States Department of Justice, acting for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), filed a civil settlement on 17 January 2003, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington in relation to an action against United States v. Shell Pipeline Co. LP fka Equilon Pipeline Co. LLC and Olympic Pipe Line Co. The civil settlement resolved Clean Water Act claims for environmental violations which led to a fatal pipeline rupture in Bellingham, Washington in 1999. The original complaint filed in May 2002 alleged that the pipeline rupture was caused by "gross negligence in the operation and maintenance of the pipeline." The consequences of the rupture were tragic. Over 230,000 gallons of gasoline were discharged. The gasoline ignited in a fireball which created a plume of smoke some six miles (10 km) high. As a result of the explosion, two ten-year-old boys and a teenager were killed and at least nine other people were injured. According to the EPA, the gasoline spill and resulting fire "killed more than 100,000 fish and other aquatic organisms in the impacted area". Other species of wildlife were also killed.

The settlement required Shell to pay a federal civil penalty of $5 million and institute a spill prevention program on four other Shell operated pipelines. Shell was also required to enter into an agreement with the State of Washington to include payment of $5 million to the State as a contingency fund in case or other State-approved expenditures. Federal and state civil penalties were in addition to criminal fines of $15 million levied against Shell in a separate criminal case.

In 1951, Shell Chemicals of Brazil built a storage tank and terminal in its chemical plant in Paulinia, 120 kilometres north-west of São Paulo, beginning operations that last to the present. A related pesticide plant was also founded, but moved out during a regional de-industrialisation in the 1970s. While both plants' operations were in general accordance with local and international standards for disposals of waste, these standards were later found to be lacking. Furthermore, among the pesticides produced were drins (endrin, dieldrin and aldrin), pesticides later discontinued due to their toxic, persistent and bioaccumulative nature. In the early 1990s, Greenpeace and the Union of Workers in the Mining and Petroleum sector (Sinpetrol) first raised charges that the area's soil, air and water were contaminated with heavy metals (most notably, lead) and drins.

In February 2001, Shell admitted responsibility according to a Greenpeace report, for the contamination by the organochlorine pesticides. The report indicates that drins were found in the groundwater and soil under the farms located between the plant and the Atibaia River, a tributary of the Piracicaba River, providing water to cities in the region. Shell still denies responsibility for the lead contamination, claiming that the contamination is organic lead, while theirs was rendered inorganic before disposal. According to the report, while Shell accepted responsibility for the pollution, it claimed that it has not been established whether the pollution threatens the health of the local population. Shell conducted blood tests among local residents and concluded that the levels of toxins present in their blood were not harmful. In June 2002, São Paulo state's environmental watchdog Cetesb, fined Shell “for toxic pesticide pollution”. According to a March 2003 article in Ode, an international magazine, a Shell official stated: “If there is proof that our products have caused harm then we will immediately take responsibility for it. That is our global policy”. According to the same article, many people were allegedly sick with ailments including cancerous growths, intestinal disorders, lung diseases and children with neurological defects.

In January 2005, Shell was reportedly ordered by a judge to stop dumping chemical wastes and to decontaminate drinking water sources. The company was additionally fined four times by the state environmental agency between 1993 and 2003. The report by Friends of the Earth claims health problems for employees and those living nearby, who were allegedly found to have high concentrations of heavy metals and pesticides in their blood. Neither Shell nor the state environmental agency (CETESB) recognised the test as valid, claiming that the methodology was flawed.

In 1901, Port Arthur, Texas was fortunate in being the nearest port to the first oil gusher in the state of Texas. Motiva Enterprises LLC, a US company jointly owned by Shell and the government of Saudi Arabia, own and operate an oil refinery in Port Arthur which was originally founded by the oil company Texaco in 1903. The refinery has been the subject of an environmental campaign led by Hilton Kelley, who together with 1,200 fellow residents of Port Arthur, has launched a class action lawsuit against Shell alleging breach of environmental human rights. In a report in The Guardian newspaper published in the UK on 24 June 2004, Kelley claimed “the Shell refinery was emitting 200-300 times the allowed emissions of chemicals - many of them carcinogenic”. He was also quoted as alleging that "children suffered from asthma and cancerous tumours while women, including members of his family, had had their uterus and ovaries removed". According to a BBC TV News programme in the UK, “Newsnight”, broadcast on 28 October 2004, a study in the year 2000 found that residents “have high levels of have levels of respiratory disease and immune-system problems way above those of a similar control group sited 60 miles (97 km) away.” Newsnight also reported that “when a federal air quality van toured the area in January 2003, it found hot spots of cancer-causing and toxic chemicals”. However, the origin of the pollution is unclear because four other oil facilities operate in the town.

The Sapref, oil refinery in Durban, the largest in South Africa (172,000 barrels per day) , is jointly owned by Shell and BP, and has been accused by protesters of having a "dismal pollution record which has claimed the lives of many residents" . Sapref themselves admitted in writing to residents, that the plant did not have a "perfect environmental and social performance record". The main accusation is that Shell/BP apply double standards, allowing the South African plant to be far lest circumspect on environmental controls than in its refineries elsewhere in the world. . Critics of Shell pointed to the company’s “Statement of General Business Principles” which stated: “We aim to be good neighbors by continuously improving the ways in which we contribute directly or indirectly to the general well-being of the communities in which we work.”. Protest groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth said that Shell fell far short of this ambition at its joint venture refinery in Durban.

On 21 March 2001, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement committing nine refineries owned by Motiva, Equilon Enterprises, and the Deer Park Refining Limited Partnership to a program to ensure compliance with important provisions of the United States Clean Air Act. The companies agreed to invest $400 million over eight years to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter. Motiva Enterprises LLC, is a joint venture between Shell and Saudi Refining Inc. Equilon Enterprises is a subsidiary of Shell Oil Co. Shell Oil Products is a partner in Park Refining Limited partnership.

Shell was also challenged by Greenpeace for plans for subsea disposal of the Brent Spar, an old oil transport and hub station located in the North Sea, into the North Atlantic. Shell eventually agreed to disassemble it onshore in Norway, although it has always maintained that its original plan to sink the platform was safer and better for the environment.

On disposal, it transpired that the Greenpeace estimates for toxic content were inaccurate.

On 8 February 1995, an article in the The New York Times headlined “Shell Settles Dumping Suit for $3 Million” revealed that Shell Oil Company had agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging that it had been “dumping illegal amounts of selenium into San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta”. As part of the settlement, Shell agreed “to reduce the selenium released in wastewater at its Martinez refinery”. The article said that selenium is a nutrient in small amounts but is toxic in larger doses. While admitting Shell had exceeded permitted limits, company officials claimed that the selenium discharges in the strait were not enough to harm the environment.

On 1 December 1989, The New York Times reported that Shell Oil Company had agreed to pay $19.75 million “for spilling more than 400,000 gallons of crude oil into San Francisco Bay”. Shell said that it had “spent an additional $14 million in cleaning up the spill, when oil flowed from a pipe at its Martinez refinery in April 1988”. Oil leaked out from a 12.5-million-gallon storage tank at the manufacturing complex 40 miles (64 km) northeast of San Francisco. The Government said that several Federal regulations were broken. According to the article at least 250 birds and 50 other animals were found dead and a valuable wildlife habitat was ruined and tidal marshlands would take 10 years to recover.

In a working paper published by the University of Colorado, Boulder, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal - the “RMA” - located some six miles (10 km) northeast of downtown Denver, Colorado was described as ”27 square miles of toxic horror” with the reputation of being "the most polluted piece of ground in America." Originally used by the United States Army from 1942 as a chemical weapons plant, the RMA was until 1982 utilised by Shell Chemical Company to produce pesticides and herbicides. The list of chemicals and contaminants polluting the RMA is described in the paper as “mind-boggling”.

From 1983 onwards, a number of lawsuits arose from contamination at the RMA. The State of Colorado sued Shell and the U.S. Army for natural resource damages under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, known as “CERCLA”. At the same time that the State of Colorado was pursuing its damages claim against the Army and Shell for $50 million per toxic discharge, the Army filed a lawsuit against Shell in respect of the contaminant liability. Shell issued proceedings against the Army, claiming $1.8 billion. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a related lawsuit against Shell, claiming almost $1.9 billion.

In 1988, Shell and the Army settled by filing a consent decree. Each agreed to pay 50 percent of the first $500 million in clean-up costs. A formula was also agreed to cover substantial additional cleanup costs. Shell lodged a claim with its insurers for reimbursement.

On 13 November 1988, The New York Times reported that Shell Oil Company and a Denver law firm Holme Roberts & Owen had been charged in a lawsuit brought by Travelers Insurance Company seeking $66 million in damages, with conspiring to conceal years of pollution at the RMA. The RMA was said to be “contaminated by the residues of nerve gas and other chemical weapons the Army made from the early 1940’s until the late 1960’s and by waste from the production of pesticides and herbicides by Shell on land leased at the arsenal from 1952 to 1982”. The article said that “chemicals have seeped into fresh water and underground water supplies in the area”. The article explained that the settlement required Shell to contribute at least $500 million towards the clean-up. Shell had found it necessary to seek reimbursement through the courts from 250 insurance carriers, including Travelers, one of the primary insurance companies covering the relevant risk. In its counterclaim, Travelers had alleged that Shell ‘’knowingly and intentionally released pollutants into the environment since commencement of its operations.'’ Their lawsuit also charged that Holme Roberts “conspired with Shell to mislead Travelers about the extent of the pollution”. The Travelers lawsuit sought the return of $16 million already paid to Shell, plus $50 million in punitive damages.

On 21 December 1988, The New York Times published an article announcing that a jury had found in favour of Travelers and the other insurers against Shell on the basis that Shell was not covered by any of its 800 insurance policies because “it knew it was polluting the ground water” at the RMA and that “the jury was persuaded that Shell was an intentional polluter”. The article revealed that the total clean up cost, to be split by Shell and the Army, was estimated to be as much as $2 billion. The Supreme Court reviewed the State of Colorado RMA case early in 1994 and ruled in its favour.

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Royal Dutch Shell safety concerns

An article entitled "Sharpening Shell’s safety culture" was published on 10 August 2007 on the web portal website of the energy multi-national Royal Dutch Shell. Authored by James Schofield, an editor  and speechwriter at Shell, the article concedes in the sub-headline: "There are many examples of successful safety programmes in Shell but overall its safety record doesn’t measure up to other major oil and gas companies. Each fatality is one too many, so Shell is launching new initiatives to build a stronger safety culture." The Schofield article provides an informative overview of Shell safety issues on a global basis and it is recommended that it be read in conjunction with this article, which currently focuses mainly on Shell North Sea operations.

Oil and gas production platforms in the North Sea have always been a hazardous work environment. On 6 July 1988 there was a devastating fire as a result of leaking gas on the “Piper Alpha” drilling platform owned by Occidental Petroleum. 167 of the 226 men on board perished in what according to a BBC report is still “the world's worst-ever offshore oil disaster”.

By comparison, the record of other operators is good. Shell has faced campaigning activity on its safety record and Health and Safety working practices, particularly in relation to its North Sea platforms, following the tragic death of only two offshore workers after a gas leak on its Brent Bravo platform on 11 September 2003. Representations made by offshore unions and by Bill Campbell, the retired HSE Group Auditor of Shell International, have attracted the attention of the news media resulting in numerous articles being published on the subject. Shell has consistently maintained following the Brent Bravo accident, that it gives first priority to the safety of offshore workers and all Shell employees.

This article focuses on Shell's health and safety record.

On 25 November 1998, a "deafening explosion" rocked the Equilon Puget Sound Refinery killing 6 people. According to an article published the following day by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer the refinery, located in Washington in the Pacific North West of the United States, was at the time jointly owned by Royal Dutch Shell and Texaco. An article published by the same newspaper on 16 May 2005 reported that the six men who had perished in the blast had been attempting to clean a refinery unit. The article stated: "State OSHA investigators later determined that men had been sent in to clean when the unit was far too hot to handle safely. Calling the deaths entirely preventable, they issued a $4.4 million fine". The article said: "Three years after the accident, the refinery agreed to pay $45 million to the six men's families -- at the time the largest wrongful-death lawsuit in Washington history".

In March 2007, several newspapers published articles in relation to Royal Dutch Shell safety issues.

On 5 March 2007, The Guardian newspaper published an article under the headline “Shell safety record in North Sea takes a hammering”. It reported that Shell had been warned repeatedly by the UK Health and Safety Executive - the "HSE" - regarding the poor state of the company's North Sea platforms. The article stated that on 13 November 2006, Shell had been served with “a rebuke and a legal notice that it was failing to operate safely”. An Aberdeen sheriff's court had previously ruled in a Fatal Accident Inquiry that Shell could have prevented two deaths on the Brent Bravo platform if it had properly carried out a repair. Shell had earlier admitted responsibility for the Brent Bravo accident. According to The Guardian, on the day of the sheriff's report, the Offshore Industry Liaison Committee had complained that the Brent Bravo platform still had “leaks, dangerous stairs, and lifts left broken for six months”. The article went on to say that in the summer of 2006, Shell had said that it was in the middle of a $1bn (£515m) programme to upgrade the platforms, claiming: "Safety is and will remain our first priority." The Guardian report drew attention to the HSE website which said that Shell was “issued with 10 improvement notices during 2006” and also pointed out that “Notices are served where the HSE considers a company is operating unlawfully with unacceptable risks”. The article also revealed that “Last year, Shell was embarrassed when Bill Campbell, one of its senior safety consultants, claimed the company was operating a weak safety regime and said some employees had been falsifying documents. Shell denied the charges, but Mr Campbell has been threatening the company with a defamation case”.

Concern over Shell safety issues has led to media speculation that the subject may impact on the appointment of a successor to Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chief Executive, Jeroen van der Veer, who is retiring in 2009. An article published by The Guardian on 29 March 2007, under the headline “Van der Veer - a safe pair of hands?” stated in reference to Van der Veer, “The one big area where he has fallen down is safety”. It went on to remind readers that the newspaper had revealed a few weeks earlier that Shell had “continued to receive warnings from the Health and Safety Executive that it is acting illegally with regard to safety in the North Sea”. The article concluded that “Mr van der Veer needs to bring a halt to this, and so does exploration and production boss Malcolm Brinded if he wants to stand any chance of taking over the top job”. Another article published by the Guardian on the same day, 29 March 2007, under the headline “Shell chief to stay an extra year beyond company retirement age”, also contained commentary linking the succession with safety issues. It stated: ”There will be a struggle to replace Mr van der Veer among the three managing directors: Malcolm Brinded, head of exploration, Linda Cook at gas and power, and finance director Peter Voser. Mr Brinded, 54, has been seen as a frontrunner but might be vulnerable over North Sea safety after revelations an internal audit found violations of safety procedures and the alleged falsification of compliance documents. Shell denied the latter charge".

The only fatal accident for which there is detailed information available is for the Brent Bravo North Sea platform tragedy. Brent Bravo, located about 180 miles (290 km) east of the Shetland Isles, is one of four oil production and storage platforms in the UK northern sector of the North Sea that make up the Brent field. On 11 September 2003, two platform workers, Sean McCue, 22, of Kennoway in Fife, and Keith Moncrieff, 45, of Invergowrie, Tayside, lost their lives after a sudden escape of gas in a platform leg where they were working. Sixty non-essential staff were evacuated from the platform by helicopter after the gas was detected. According to a BBC News report published the following day, Shell Expro Managing Director Tom Botts said that the emergency response system immediately shut down the platform. Jake Molloy, the leader of the offshore union Offshore Industry Liaison Committee -"OILC", was quoted as saying that unions had already complained to the HSE about a backlog of maintenance and staffing issues in the Brent Field, particularly on the Brent Bravo platform. The article revealed that the HSE were investigating the accident. On 9 February 2005, a BBC News report revealed that Shell had been charged following the deaths of the two offshore workers. On 31 March 2005, The Scotsman newspaper reported that Shell had admitted at Stonehaven Sheriff Court breaching three health and safety charges in connection with the deaths.

On 27 April 2005, BBC News reported that Shell had been fined £900,000, “thought to be the biggest fine on a company following a North Sea accident” after admitting breaching health and safety regulations. Sheriff Patrick Davies said that a "substantial catalogue of errors" caused the deaths of the two men, but he had taken into account that Shell had “tendered guilty pleas at an early stage”. The two offshore workers who died had been asked to inspect a temporary repair patch on a safety-critical pipeline in the leg. The patch “had been a temporary repair for 10 months”.

On 18 July 2005, a BBC News report revealed that Scotland's senior law officer, The Lord Advocate, had overturned a decision made by Crown counsel not to hold a fatal accident inquiry into the deaths of the two men on Brent Bravo on the basis that it would be in the "wider public interest" for an inquiry.

The Fatal Accident Inquiry Report into the deaths of SEAN SCOTT McCUE and KEITH SCOT MONCRIEFF was released in July 2006.

On 19 July 2006, an article about the findings of the Inquiry was published by The Times under the headline: “Unions call for manslaughter law after Shell deaths inquiry”. It reported that “The six-month investigation into the deaths on Brent Bravo in September 2003 concluded that the accident could have been avoided if Shell had done a proper repair of a pipe”. It went on to say “The victims, Keith Moncrieff and Sean McCue, died from a huge gas escape from an illegal repair to a corroded pipe when they descended into the concrete leg of the platform to make an inspection”. Shell was said to have accepted the inquiry findings. The Times article pointed out that Bill Campbell, a former Shell engineer, had come forward with details of a platform safety maintenance review carried in 1999 on the Brent Bravo platform. It said that Campbell’s audit team found “widespread violations of safety procedures and alleged falsification of records”. The article revealed that “Mr Campbell, who retired from Shell in 2002, believes that the Brent Bravo deaths could have been prevented had the company responded adequately to his finding that platform maintenance was being delayed to sustain oil and gas output. He tried to put his evidence to the inquiry, but the presiding sheriff declined to admit it on the ground that it was beyond the inquiry’s scope”. Shell was quoted as accepting the 1999 audit’s findings, saying that it responded with improvements. However Shell insisted that there was no verifiable evidence of falsification by platform management as Campbell had alleged.

In June and July 2006, over a dozen articles were published by the news media revealing serious allegations by Bill Campbell, a former Shell International Group Auditor, whose name, as a result, is now inextricably linked with the Brent Bravo story.

Campbell’s allegations were the subject of a programme broadcast by BBC Scotland's investigative current affairs BBC 1 TV programme Frontline Scotland in a feature entitled: “The Human Price of Oil”. An article relating to the programme was published by BBC News under the headline “Shell ignored accident warning”, one of a number of BBC news reports on the subject. The Guardian newspaper published three articles, the first with the headline “Shell accused over oil rig safety”; the second entitled “Call for inquiry into oil rig safety regulator and the third “Shell confesses to poor North Sea safety record and pledges reform” A series of articles was also published by Upstream Online a respected weekly petroleum industry publication which also operates a related petroleum news website.

One of the most astonishing allegations was that "top directors of Shell Expro in Aberdeen, the UK arm of the Anglo-Dutch group, allegedly sanctioned a policy widely known as Touch Fuck All (TFA) whereby offshore installation managers were told to stop any work with the potential to cause unplanned shutdowns". The following paragraph is also taken from the same article by UpstreamOnline entitled "Shell in the safety firing line".

Shell was quoted as rejecting Campbell's charges. Shell said "The allegation regarding operating with high-risk levels is untrue and we absolutely refute this. Safety is and will remain our first priority offshore".

In his letter to MP's, Campbell stated: "I am a former Group Auditor of Shell International. I am writing to you on a matter of conscience in an effort to avert the inevitability of another major accident in the North Sea".

On 14 September 2007, The Independent newspaper reported in an article headlined "Oil majors send safety chiefs to summit as criticisms mount" that "Senior directors from the world's largest oil companies have agreed to attend a summit meeting next month in order to discuss working together to tackle health and safety issues." The article went on to say that "Heads of safety from oil majors including BP, Shell and Total will meet together for the first time in order to agree a joint approach to improving the industry's safety record." According to the article the "summit meeting" results from increasing concern among oil company executives "that a series of disasters and safety failures is jeopardising their reputation and damaging business prospects." Shell was said to be sending its head of safety, Kieron McFadyen, to the safety summit.

On 8 November 2007, BBC News reported that “The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has partially upheld claims that Shell was not doing enough to ensure safety offshore” and that Shell has taken action to address the matters. The article said that the offshore unions Unite Amicus and OILC had asked the HSE to investigate claims from their members which “focused” on manning levels and the attitude of platform management. The article went on to say: “The investigation concluded that aspects of the complaint were justified”. Graham Tran, an official of the Unite Amicus Union was quoted as saying he believed Shell should leave the North Sea as it has “no credibility”. Shell said the company was fully co-operating with the HSE and that it continues to keep its staff and the HSE informed.

Under the headline “More safety breaches found on Shell's North Sea rigs”, The Guardian newspaper reported on the same day, 8 November 2007, that “Shell has once again been rapped over the knuckles by the Health and Safety Executive for safety problems on its North Sea platforms despite pledges from chief executive Jeroen van der Veer that he was determined to change the culture after problems in the past”. The HSE confirmed that it had upheld complaints about staff levels and operational procedures on five platforms, including Cormorant Alpha and Dunlin Alpha, and asked Shell to take immediate action. The article went on to say: “Shell, which earned £1.5m an hour last year, has been through a torrid time over North Sea safety since one of its own most experienced inspectors, Bill Campbell, blew the whistle on his employer claiming that safety procedures were being repeatedly ignored on some platforms.” Shell said it would not comment “in-depth” on the HSE statement saying that an investigation was continuing. Shell pledged to fully co-operate with the HSE and keep Shell staff informed. The article ended with forthright comments attributed to Gran Tran of the Unite Union expressing fears for the ongoing safety of the workforce on the platforms.

On Friday 1 February 2008, Channel 4 News led its flagship evening news programme with a 7 minute package entitled: “Shell North Sea safety concerns”. A related article on its website, where a video clip of the TV news report can be viewed, said: Shell is Britain's highest ever earning company, announcing profits of £13.9b, but the oil giant is being accused by its workforce of "a severe lack of commitment to safety". The package contained allegations from a “Royal Dutch Shell insider” alleging critical safety systems on one platform were not working properly and that the safety culture at Shell has shifted from 'doing the right thing' to 'mend and make do'. The presenter Jon Snow said that although Shell had declined an invitation for an interview, the company had insisted the claims were unfounded and safety is its top priority.

In a separate article headlined “Lifeboats trouble at Brent field” also published on 14 March 2008, UpstreamOnline revealed “SHELL’s safety record on its Brent Bravo platform in the UK Northern North Sea is once again under scrutiny after the discovery of technical problems with two lifeboats on the installation that resulted in both of them being removed from service.” Jake Molloy, general secretary of the Offshore Industry Liaison Committee was quoted in the article by Christopher Hopson as claiming “If they had loaded up this particular lifeboat, the chances are it could have been launched into the sea in an uncontrolled fashion which would have caused death or injury as it was held in place by corrosion and not by the designed system”. The article said that problems had been found with a second lifeboat on the Brent Bravo platform. It also reported that a lifeboat had launched itself into the sea from Shell’s Tern platform because the brakes and clutches were “dysfunctional” and had damaged the launch mechanism off the platform. Shell confirmed problems had been discovered with two lifeboats on Brent Bravo during “routine maintenance”. Shell was quoted as stating that it viewed the matter seriously and had “mobilised an investigation team on the platform”.

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Controversies surrounding Royal Dutch Shell

Dr. Owens Wiwa, brother of executed anti-Shell campaigner Ken Saro-Wiwa, addresses a Shell to Sea rally in Dublin after the Rossport Five are released from prison

There have been concerns over Royal Dutch Shell over environmental and health and safety related issues as well as in respect of its businesses practices and priorities. In recent times Shell’s management has acknowledged some of these problems and has promised to take steps to repair damage done both to the affected parties and to its own reputation, which has involved tightening internal controls between its different subsidiaries, an ostensible commitment to corporate social responsibility, an extensive global advertising campaign and other initiatives in the late 1990s (see Ken Saro-Wiwa) and early 2000s.

In 1965 the British Crown Colony of Rhodesia unilaterally declared independence from Britain which led to the imposition of sanctions by the United Nations. These sanctions included strict controls on oil and petroleum product sales to the rebel colony. In 1978 the "Bingham report" into sanctions busting have an interest is supplying to Rhodesia". The Bingham report revealed that shipments to Rhodesia had arrived at the old petroleum port of Lourenco Marques (now Maputo), and from there the oil had been shepherded by Shell Mozambique, a British-incorporated firm, into the hands of South African brokers, who sent it north by rail through Mozambique to Rhodesia. Senior executives of Shell were criticised in the report for failing to monitor what local employees were doing .

In the early 1970s, Shell decided to dispose of the heavily loss making business of Shell Italiana - its downstream operation in Italy. Assets were sold to the Italian state company Eni in 1973. Subsequent to the sale, Shell’s accountants and outside auditors discovered that in the five years prior to the sale to Eni Italian politicians had received “political contributions” totalling around £2.5 million from Shell Italiana’s local management. These had been recorded in the company’s books as “advertising and publicity” expenses. Shell’s General Manager in Italy, who had operated without authority and who had misrecorded the payments, was dismissed .

In Ireland, Shell has been criticised, along with Statoil and Marathon Oil, for its plans to pipe unrefined gas from the Corrib Gas Field onshore through a pipeline that would pass close to local residents, en route to a refinery 9 km inland, in northwest County Mayo. The plans were originally made by Enterprise Oil and inherited by Shell when they acquired this company in 2002. In the summer of 2005 five local men were sent to prison for three months after refusing to abide by an injunction obtained by the company - these men became known as the Rossport Five. There is currently a campaign by local residents, Shell to Sea, whose main aims have been to persuade Shell to change their plans for the pipeline and refinery. In April 2007, the Irish High Court ruled that Shell could not use their original intended pipeline route. Shell recently announced its plan for bringing the gas from the sea to the site of the refinery at Bellinaboy, which again involves getting the Irish government to issue further Compulsory Acquisition Orders. There is also a solidarity camp where people from outside the locality who support the campaign have come to live and help with the campaign. Shell has claimed that the development is welcomed by most of the local population, that all planning regulations are being followed and that it has been responsive to local concerns . Opinion polls are contrary to this.

On 3 October 2005 a U.S. federal appeals court upheld a patent infringement verdict against Shell Oil Company in a case brought by Union Carbide. The federal court also told a lower court to consider increasing the $153.6 million damages already awarded in the case. According to a news report, the “U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected an appeal by Shell and its subsidiary, Shell Chemical Co,. which sought to overturn a jury verdict that it infringed a Union Carbide patent on chemical processes used to make ethylene oxide”. The appeals court reportedly said there was "substantial evidence" to support the jury verdict.

On 26 April 2000 The New York Times reported that the United Nations had fined the Royal Dutch Shell Group $2 million for shipping Iraqi oil on April 5 2000 in violation of the then international embargo against Iraq. The tanker, the Akademik Pustovoit, was boarded by American-led naval forces in the Persian Gulf. Royal Dutch/Shell had maintained that the tanker carried only Iranian oil, loaded at the port in Bandar Mahshur. However, a spokesman for The Pentagon, Kenneth H. Bacon, was quoted as confirming that tests on the cargo had determined that 20 percent of the oil was from Iraq. The article reported that with high prices increasing demand, there had been a sharp increase in illicit oil shipments and Iraqi officials were believed to be earning millions from smuggling oil.

Between 1972 and 1975, the last three years of the Vietnam War, Shell Vietnam (the local "operating company" of the Shell Group) controlled half of Vietnam’s oil supply. A book by Louis Wesseling, the President of Shell Vietnam during that period, revealed that Shell failed properly to control the oil shipments which flowed through indirect channels to the Viet Cong. According to his book “Fuelling the war: revealing an oil company’s role in Vietnam”, Shell knowingly employed as a manager a notorious former senior police official with a “fearsome and well-deserved reputation” who “had already shown his inclination to settle security matters by military action with little compunction about killing, innocents along with suspects”. Wesseling later served as CEO of Shell companies in South America and the Middle East and collaborated on drafting the "Shell Group Business Principles".

Shell operates a joint venture with the government in Nigeria under the name Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC). In the early 1990s, Ken Saro-Wiwa, president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), led a non-violent campaign against environmental damage associated with the operations of multinational oil companies, including Shell and British Petroleum, in the Ogoni homelands of the Niger Delta. In January 1993, MOSOP organised peaceful marches of around 300,000 Ogoni people – more than half of the Ogoni population – through four Ogoni centres, drawing international attention to his people's plight. That same year, Shell ceased operations in the Ogoni region. Shell's involvement in Nigeria came to the fore again in October 1990 when a peaceful protest in Umeuchem escalated. Eighty people were killed by the police and 495 homes were destroyed. Shell claims that it merely asked for police protection. In 1995 Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others were executed. Ken Saro-Wiwa had implicated Shell during his “treason” trial by saying “…the ecological war that has waged … will be called to question sooner than later and the …crime of the Company's dirty wars against the Ogoni people will also be punished.” Shell was also found to be providing money and supplies to the Nigerian military. When Saro-Wiwa was executed on trumped-up charges, much of the world-wide condemnation of the act was aimed at Shell, which was implicated by its association with the Nigerian government's activities.

In February 2002, a judge ruled that a case brought against Royal Dutch Shell by close relatives of Ken Saro-Wiwa could proceed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York under the Alien Tort Claims Act, the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1992 and RICO Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

Shell has continued to be condemned by bodies such as Christian Aid, who reported that despite Shell claims of "honesty integrity and respect for people" it had "failed to use its considerable interest in Nigeria to bring about change in the Niger delta". The report also found evidence of failures to clean up oil spills, pollution of rivers and water courses, and non-completion of promised projects for community improvement. In 2001 a study into the community projects was leaked to The Economist. It reported that of 81 claimed projects visited by the reviewers of the scheme, 20 did not exist, 36 were partially successful and only 25 were working.

The Board of Trustees of Amherst College located in Amherst, Massachusetts, passed a resolution on 14 January 2006 to divest all investments in multinational companies “identified as having direct business ties to the Sudanese government or companies whose business activities are in direct support of these companies and the activities of the government”. The divestment action was taken based on the government's atrocities which were deemed to be "wholly inconsistent with the moral and ethical values of Amherst College" and alleged evidence of genocide against the people of the Darfur region allegedly committed by the Sudanese government. Royal Dutch Shell Plc was identified as one of the multinationals banned for investment purposes because of the nature of its business operations in Sudan.

Shell was also challenged by Greenpeace for plans for subsea disposal of the Brent Spar, an old oil transport and hub station located in the North Sea, into the North Atlantic. Shell eventually agreed to disassemble it onshore in Norway, although it has always maintained that its original plan to sink the platform was safer and better for the environment.

On disposal, it transpired that the Greenpeace estimates for toxic content were inaccurate.

In May 2004 a Shell spokeswoman confirmed that over 500 Shell and Texaco service stations in Louisiana and Florida had stopped selling tainted gasoline which caused fuel gauges to malfunction. Shell set up a hot line for drivers concerned they might have purchased the tainted gasoline. There were a number of news reports about the tainted fuel, alleged inadequate response by Shell and of the filing of lawsuits. Shell issued a press statement, extracts from which were quoted in a press release from the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office in June 2004.

In April 2007, a U.S. District Judge sealed the records on how he had divided $6.8 million in legal fees among lawyers representing plaintiffs in the 2004 federal class action lawsuit which arose from the fuel gauge damage. The case was brought on behalf of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida residents whose fuel gauges broke after they purchased Shell Oil Co. gasoline containing too much sulfur over several weeks starting in May 2004. The tainted gasoline had been produced at the Shell-Motiva oil refinery in Norco, Louisiana. An article published by The Times-Picayune newspaper stated: “Soon after the problem emerged, Shell volunteered to fix broken gauges in tens of thousands of vehicles at a cost of $200 to $1,000 each, depending on the car model. By September 2004, Shell had processed about 81,000 claims, meaning the firm by that time could have spent tens of millions on the repairs”. The article said that “attorneys for both sides reached a settlement that called for Shell to expand the repair program and provide $3.7 million to cover general damages”.

In Canada, Shell Canada experienced similar problems also stemming from sulfur contamination of fuel which created malfunction of fuel gauges. An article published by the Toronto Star in June 2004 alleged that "The reaction by Shell in the United States differs from how the company handled customers in the Toronto region last spring and summer".

On 4 April 2008, BBC News reported flight cancellations at Manchester Airport, a major airport located in Northern England, after jet fuel from the Shell Stanlow Refinery in Ellesmere Port was found to be of "poor standard". The article stated: "There was a problem with the quality of jet fuel at the oil refinery".

In September 2004, 399 ex-employees of Shell won a lawsuit at the Miri High Court in Malaysia concerning the administration by the defendant Shell Group companies of Shell employee retirement funds. The Shell companies in question - Sarawak Shell Bhd and Sabah Shell Petroleum Co Ltd - were ordered to pay nearly RM100 million to the plaintiffs, 399 former employees known as Project Team A, who filed their suit on 29 November 2002 alleging an unlawful deduction from their retirement funds. According to a report of the hearing, counsel for the plaintiffs objected to an application by Shell for a stay on the grounds that “a majority of the plaintiffs are well over the age of 60 and in weak and declining health”. A story in the New Straits Times published on 7 October 2004 reported in relation to the former Shell employees, that “Some have died. Others are losing their memory and many are ailing.” According to another news report, the suit was said to be the first "in the legal history of Malaysia involving the largest number of ex-employees suing their former employers and involving such a big claim". The defendants filed an appeal against the decision.

The announcement on 9 January 2004 by the Royal Dutch Shell Group of the downgrading of its hydrocarbon reserves drew fire from shareholders, financial analysts, the media (e.g. news report 20 April 2004) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) after announcing the recategorisation of its hydrocarbon reserves, admitting that a significant share of reserves previously booked as proven did not fulfill the requirements for proof under the US regulatory provisions. According to the SEC Cease and Desist Orderof 24 August 2004, Shell overstated proved reserves reported in its 2002 Form 20-F by 4.47 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe), or approximately 23%. The order further concludes that Shell also overstated the standardised measure of future cash flows reported in this filing by approximately $6.6 billion. Shell corrected these overstatements in an amended filing on 2 July 2004, which reflected the degree of Shell's overstatements for the years 1997 to 2002. At the time of announcing the order against Shell, the SEC simultaneously made known its intention to "pin the reserves scandal on individuals" reportedly stating that it intended to take action against people inside and outside the company.

Shell's Annual Report and Accounts 2003 restated proven reserves reduced by 6.648 mn USD in 2001 and reduced by 6.469 mn USD in 2002. This corresponds to roughly 13% of the previous proven reserves base. In addition, it was identified that in previous years leading management's bonus payments were linked to the proven reserves base. This practice has since been discontinued. The controversy over the exaggeration of the oil and gas reserves of Shell resulted in the resignation of the then chairman Sir Philip Watts, and the departure of the head of the Exploration and Production business Walter van der Vijver and the CFO Judy Boynton.

As a further consequence of the reserves recategorisation, on 19 April 2004, Bloomberg reported that the Royal Dutch/Shell Group had lost its AAA credit rating with Standard & Poor's which it had previously maintained for 14 years.

On 24 August 2004, the UK financial regulator, the Financial Services Authority (the FSA) announced that it had imposed a penalty of £17 million pounds (UK) on The “Shell” Transport and Trading Company p.l.c. and The Royal Dutch Petroleum Company NV. The FSA considered that: "Shell announced false or misleading proved reserves and reserves replacement ratios to the market throughout the period 1998 to 2003 inclusive." The FSA also considered that Shell’s misconduct amounted to “market abuse” on the basis that the market “was likely to have been, given a false or misleading impression as to the price or value of UK listed Shell shares…”(p11: para60) The FSA further considered that Shell’s actions were particularly serious, meriting a substantial penalty. However, the level of penalty reflected the high degree of cooperation which Shell had shown during the FSA investigation. On the same date, the SEC announced a fine of $70 million USD on Shell making a combined fine of approximately $150 million USD by the UK and U.S. financial regulators.

In July 2006 Shell confirmed that the company had set aside $500m to settle outstanding class action litigation in respect of the reserves mis-statement issue.

In January 2006, Shell was also sued by a group of Dutch pension funds allegedly holding about 5% of Shell's shares.

A section of page 147 of Shell’s Annual Report and Form 20-F for year ending December 31, 2006, published in March 2007 deals with the "Recategorisation of hydrocarbon reserves". It relates to the consolidated shareholder class action pending in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. The lead plaintiffs are the Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System and the Pennsylvania Public School Employees' Retirement System. The remaining defendants in the action are Royal Dutch Petroleum Company (merged into Shell Petroleum N.V.), The "Shell" Transport and Trading Company, plc, former Shell directors, Sir Philip Watts and Judith Boynton, and Shell auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, KPMG Accountants N.V., and KPMG International. Related class actions filed on 6 January 2006 by Dutch pension funds, and German and Luxembourg institutional shareholders, are consolidated with the existing class action for pre-trial purposes. The preliminary stage of the litigation is completed. An amended complaint has been filed and answered by the defendants. Discovery has commenced. According to the same Shell Annual Report, the Court will hold hearings in June 2007 on various legal issues including plaintiffs’ motion for class certification and on whether federal securities laws apply to the claims of non-U.S. potential class members who purchased Shell’s securities on foreign markets. The court will also decide various summary judgement motions being filed by Shell.

Sakhalin-II is an oil and gas project led by Shell on Sakhalin Island in Russia that involves the piping of oil and gas to an oil terminal and the construction of Russia's first liquefied natural gas LNG plant. The project was controversial from the start for cost, environmental and community relations reasons. In the summer of 2005 Sakhalin Energy, the project operator, doubled its estimated capital costs to around $20 billion and LNG production was delayed until 2008. Shell expressed surprise at this huge increase. Environmental reasons accounted for part of the budgetary errors.

The originally negotiated contract was a “production sharing agreement” which gave the Russian state revenues only after Shell and the other partner companies had recouped their costs and made a substantial return on their investments. Thus Shell was substantially protected from cost overruns which would lead to lower and later income for Russia (and for Shell). This was the main reason for the Russians to insist on a new deal, involving Gazprom and for the charge of greed being levelled at Shell by many independent observers of the project.

The environmental and social concerns came to a head at the end of November 2005 when the Chief Executive of WWF said that it would have a "negative impact on Sakhalin's people and environment". The timing of this attack was difficult for Shell and the other consortium partners as they were seeking financing for the project from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) at that time.

The spiraling project costs and other difficulties have continued to undermine confidence in Shell's reputation for good project management. On 22 October 2006 an article in The Observer reported that a leaked internal report by the Russian government estimated that the final cost would now reach $28 billion.

In late 2006, Shell and its partners in Sakhalin Energy reached an agreement with Gazprom for the Kremlin controlled company to become the majority shareholder in the venture. This was described as a "Capitulation" by The Economist. . Russian President Putin attended the signing ceremony in Moscow and indicated that environmental issues had been resolved. In a news report on 23 December 2006, The Sunday Telegraph claimed that Shell had been bullied into the deal by the Russian authorities.

On 28 September 2006, an article published in The Guardian newspaper alleged that "An attempt by Shell to portray itself as a model of corporate social responsibility was undermined last night after Whitehall documents showed its charitable arm discussing a key commercial project with a British government minister." The article entitled "Campaigners attack Shell’s charity arm over Sakhalin talks" related to The Shell Foundation. The Charity Commission subsequently conducted an inquiry and according to an article published in The Guardian on 17 October 2006, concluded that 'The Shell Foundation “has fallen short of the good governance and decision-making that we expect from large charities”.

In 2004 Wall Street regulators investigated whether members of Shell’s management were encouraged by executive bonus schemes to over-state the oil giant’s reserves. It was reported that some 5 per cent of the performance score-card of about 200 executives in Shell’s exploration and production unit was tied to the company’s reserves replacement ratio. Shell's remuneration policy changed significantly between 1990 and 2005 with senior executives in all functions being substantially rewarded for achieving short-term performance related targets. When Shell's Sakhalin deal unravelled in 2006 there was comment that many of the senior managers who negotiated the deal in the first place had received bonuses based on the earnings expectations of that deal as they then applied. Although much less favourable terms were forced on Shell in the 2006 renegotiations it is not believed that any return of personal bonuses from these executives were requested.

Due to an oversight, Shell failed to register the top level internet domain name for the new company, Royaldutchshellplc.com. In May 2005 it launched proceedings to request the transfer of the domain name, along with two other domain names relating to Shell including royaldutchshellgroup.com, from their holder, Alfred Donovan, a long-standing activist against Shell. Shell lost the case.

In 1999, Shell was the first multinational to set up an online discussion facility for its stakeholders and the public to engage in open debate about its activities – known as the "Tell Shell Forum". Shell said at the time “We genuinely do welcome all comments, positive and negative... this website is in itself evidence that we are interested in seeking your views and willing to listen and respond.” Shell was criticised for withdrawing the forum in late 2005. A replacement to the forum was promised, but has not appeared. The discussions on the Shell Forum have been archived and are available.

In September 2006, the European Commission fined Shell $137m for their role in a cartel that fixed the price of bitumen. According to a report published in the Houston Chronicle, "the EU Commission said the company was an instigator, took the leadership in the cartel and was a repeat offender". The report went on to state that "Shell’s fine was increased by 50 percent because of its involvement in previous cartels and another 50 percent for instigating and leading the cartel." A BBC news report revealed that Shell has previously been fined by the EU Commission for price-fixing in other markets (PVC and propylene). An article in The Daily Mail stated that Shell’s fine was increased by lOpc for "obstructing the probe". On 29 November 2006, it was reported that the European Commission was imposing "its second-largest cartel fine against Shell, Dow Chemical, ENI, Unipetrol and Trade-Stomil." The fine was imposed for "fixing prices of synthetic rubber, used mainly in tyre production." According to an article in The Times newspaper, "Shell’s fine, as well as ENI’s, was increased because it was a repeat offender." All three of the featured quotations are from The Times article. According to a BBC News report, also published on 29 November 2006, Royal Dutch Shell Plc was fined 160.8 million euros.

In January 2006, Royal Dutch Shell Plc agreed to a $300,000 settlement in respect of allegations that “two of its subsidiaries engaged in “fictitious” crude oil futures trades on the New York Mercantile Exchange.” Shell Trading U.S., located in Houston and London-based Shell International Trading and Shipping, agreed to pay $200,000 to settle a Commodity Futures Trading Commission case. Nigel Catterall, then head of the futures desk for Shell Trading U.S. agreed to pay $100,000. Bloomberg reported that Catterall and Shell engaged in prearranged trades for oil futures at least five times between November 2003 and March 2004. The CFTC acknowledged that Shell had cooperated in the investigation. According to the Bloomberg story (one on many news reports on the case), a commission spokesman, Dennis Holden, would not comment on how the trading violations came to light.

On 17 June 2001, The Sunday Times published an article headlined MI6 ‘Firm’ Spied on Green Groups”. It revealed that a private intelligence firm, Hakluyt & Company Limited, “with close links to MI6” spied on environmental campaign groups to collect information for the oil companies, Shell and BP. The article revealed that an undercover agent, German-born Manfred Schlickenrieder, a serving member of the German secret service, infiltrated and “scuppered” environmental campaigns directed against the oil giants. Schlickenrieder was said to have “posed as a left-wing sympathizer and film maker”.

The Nigerian Connection: According to the article, Schlickenrieder tried to dupe The Body Shop group to pass on information about its opposition to “Shell drilling for oil in a Nigerian tribal land”. The spying operation began in 1996, when Mike Reynolds, a director of Hakluyt and former MI6 head of station in Germany, “was asked by Shell to find out who was orchestrating threats against its petrol forecourts across Europe”. The threats apparently followed an outcry over Shell’s attempts in 1995 to “dump” the redundant Brent Spar oil platform at sea and allegations of environmental damage caused by Shell’s oil drilling in Ogoniland, Nigeria. Schlickenrieder made a film on Shell in Nigeria called “Business as Usual: the Arrogance of Power”. Using this cover story, he interviewed friends of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Nobel prize nominee hanged by the military regime in 1995 after leading a campaign against Shell.

There is an earlier example of Shell's admitted involvement with undercover activity. In connection with a letter dated 23 June 1998, Shell Legal Director Richard Wiseman admitted that Shell had used undercover activity involving a Mr Christopher Phillips in the course of litigation. The letter from Mr Wiseman refers to a related letter to the Office for Supervising of Solicitors. According to an article published in the Sunday Telegraph, although Shell lawyers admitted that they hired Mr Phillips, they said it was only to carry out "routine credit inquiries". Shell subsequently settled the relevant litigation.

On 12 September 2001, under the headline: “No Secret's Safe From These Sharp Eyes”, The New York Times published an article focused on corporate “cloak-and-dagger escapades”. An executive of Shell International Exploration and Production, Mr Stephen J. Wade, was revealed as being a "competitive intelligence analyst -- management-speak for corporate America's equivalent of a spy”. The report said that Mr. Wade “uses every trick in the book” and “may even dish out erroneous information...” Mr Wade was quoted as commenting: It isn't James Bond. The article went on to say: “Still, like any good spy, Mr. Wade declined to give detailed examples of information gleaned this way”. It also pointed out that corporate spying “sometimes skirts ethical bounds”.

An article published in the Financial Times on 5 October 2005, revealed that a Mr Ian McCredie was in September 2004 appointed as a Shell Vice-President responsible for security. McCredie was described as “head of Global Security Services at Shell International”. The FT article said of McCredie “He had worked for the UK Foreign Service since 1976 in security and intelligence”. This is believed to be a reference to the naming of Ian Forbes McCredie OBE, as being a former MI6 officer.

In July 2008, The Irish Times newspaper published an article under the headline "Mayo family complains over Shell surveillance". The article revealed that a North Mayo family living in Glengad, landfall for the Shell Corrib gas project pipeline, had complained to the Police, the Garda, about alleged "constant surveillance of their movements by security staff attached to the Corrib gas project". Shell EP Ireland reportedly confirmed that surveillance was taking place on the basis that 'surveillance was needed because of "criminal activity" close to the point where the gas will come ashore'. Colm Henry, speaking for his family, was quoted as saying: "We are not opposed to the gas coming ashore if done in a safe way... " Mr Henry went on to say: "We object to our grandchildren being filmed while walking and paddling, and we will be seeking to have this footage returned to us".

Shell courted controversy in January 2007 when they announced that they had signed a deal to help Iran develop a major gas field in defiance of pressure from the United States.

Shell has been active in Iran for many years. Shell Iran has an office in Tehran from which various downstream businesses are managed and which is also the centre for new exploration and production and other projects. In 1999 Shell signed an agreement with the National Iranian Oil Company to redevelop the Soroosh and Nowrooz offshore oil fields and Shell executives made it clear at the time of the signing how much the company valued its relationship with Iran . Drilling commenced in 2001. Whilst American oil companies were prohibited by sanctions from working in Iran Shell, along with some other European companies (e.g. Repsol YPF), continued to operate and pursue new opportunities in the country. This was in contrast with BP who decided not to be involved at a time when the Iranian regime was criticised for its anti-western stance, its suspected nuclear weapons programme, its support for the insurgencies in Palestine and Iraq and its institutionalised anti-Israeli and holocaust denial rhetoric.

On 12 May 2008, Thomson Financial News reported that Royal Dutch Shell and Repsol YPF had withdrawn from "the $10 bln-plus development of phase 13 of South Pars, the world's largest gas field..." but on the basis that they might participate in "other phases". On the same date, The Times published an article which said in the opening paragraph: "Royal Dutch Shell has apparently caved into political pressure from the US in backing out of a $10 billion gas project in Iran".

In 2002, a $490 million judgement was made in favour of 466 plaintiffs by a Nicaraguan court jointly against Shell Oil Company (SOC) and three other named defendants (not affiliated with SOC), for alleged injuries resulting from alleged exposure to dibromochloropropane (DBCP), a pesticide manufactured by SOC. According to information on page 147 of Shell’s Annual Report and Form 20-F for year ending December 31, 2006, the pesticide was manufactured prior to 1978 and was not shipped or sold by SOC to any party in Nicaragua. The report states on page 147 that “As of December 31, 2006, nine additional Nicaraguan judgements that have been entered in the collective amount of approximately $1.2 billion in favour of 1,737 plaintiffs jointly against Shell Chemical Company and three other named defendants...” Shell claims that the Nicaraguan DBCP judgements are unenforceable in a US court.

Shell has been criticised by some activists for seeking to benefit from the regime change in Iraq. The NGO "Hands off Iraqi Oil" has charged that "Shell has been working closely with the occupying powers to create a framework that will allow multinational companies to take control of Iraq's oil." And that they lobbying of Shell and other oil majors "...could result in multinational oil companies controlling and profiting from most of the country's oilfields for up to 20 years".

On November 20, 2007 Shell Ethiopia Workers Union, which claims to represent around 90% of the total Shell Ethiopia workforce, filed a law suit at the Federal First Instance Court in Ethiopia alleging that Shell has illegally changed its early retirement policies in order to save money on lay-offs ahead of a possible closure of its operations in Ethiopia.

The complain states that Shell scrapped its “Special Early Retirement Scheme”, which pays up to 55 months salary to employees who leave company service earlier than their retirement date and replaced it with a ‘Voluntary Severance Package’. The new package is alleged to reduce the amount of money to be paid to departing employees by up to 70pc while management members will get an additional payment ranging from 40pc to 100 pc.

The Statement of Claim points out that a few years ago Shell took over Agip Ethiopia and accepted 34 employees, 13 of whom opted to avail themselves of the special early retirement scheme, thereby receiving 55 months of salary.

On 2 December 2007, the Addis Fortune Newspaper in Ethiopia published an article entitled "Labour Union Sues Shell Over Severance Benefits".

The case is scheduled for hearing on December 28, 2007.

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Source : Wikipedia