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Posts under ‘Oil Price Fixing’

FT: Shell’s top oil trader defends North Sea Brent activity


Mar. 29, 2017 12:57 PM ET|By: Carl Surran, SA News Editor

Royal Dutch Shell’s (RDS.A, RDS.B) VP of crude oil trading is out with a strong defense against accusations that the company’s activity in the North Sea crude market has skewed the benchmark Brent contract that underpins global oil prices.

Shell allegedly traded very aggressively in the region during 2016, with large positions in North Sea crude at times running contrary to clear signs of oversupply in the market, with the buying spree seen potentially pushing up prices.

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OPEC Output Cuts End Big Oil’s Trading Bonanza

The oil-trading boom that cushioned the profits of Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc through the price slump of 2015 and early 2016 is over.

BP said on Tuesday it made a “small” loss trading oil in the fourth quarter, while Shell last week said trading profits “flattened” in late 2016. The fall off in trading contributed to worse-than-expected fourth-quarter profits at Europe’s largest oil and gas producers.

Although better known for their oilfields, refineries and gas stations, Shell and BP are the world’s top energy traders, handling about 20 percent of global oil demand between them and dwarfing independent trading houses such as Vitol Group BV, Trafigura Group and Glencore Plc.

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Opec outflanked

By Ed Crooks of the Finacial Times: January 13, 2017

In the 1930s many newspapers carried impressively detailed diagrams showing France’s defences along the German border, described by Popular Mechanix and Inventions magazine as the “world’s greatest underground fortifications”. By the end of May 1940, Hitler had demonstrated that while the Maginot Line might indeed be an engineering marvel, it was also irrelevant, as his panzer divisions swept past it through Belgium and into France. Last year’s agreement between leading oil-producing countries to curb their output had something of the same feel about it this week.

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Sell Shell?

Royston Wild | Monday, 2nd January, 2017

Sell Shell?

It comes as little surprise that Royal Dutch Shell (LSE: RDSB) has rocketed during the fourth quarter, the stock reaching 13-month peaks just last week on the back of the successful OPEC production accord. Shell gained 18% in total during October-December.

The Doha deal has been heralded as a game-changer in addressing the supply/demand imbalance washing over the oil market. And with no little reason. After all, OPEC is responsible for around 40% of global crude output.

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Royal Dutch Shell plc Good Times Underway

Having brought about production at exceptionally low costs with cash operating costs around $15 per barrel throughout the year, Royal Dutch Shell plc (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) is expected to post a commendable  cash flow growth in the long cycle. With West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude currently above $50 per barrel, the Anglo Dutch company is likely to benefit. As per the estimates of market watchdogs, the oil and gas major is expected to grow its cash flow position to $25 billion in four years given that oil prices reach $60 per barrel.

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Oil prices shed early gains amid doubts over OPEC output cut

By Jane Chung and Keith Wallis | SEOUL/SINGAPORE

Oil prices erased early gains to trade almost flat in Asian session on Thursday on mixed U.S. crude stocks data and doubts over OPEC’s implementation of an output cut, although a weaker dollar aided sentiment.

International Brent crude futures were trading up 2 cents at $53.02 a barrel at 0807 GMT. Prices fell to $52.81 a barrel earlier in the session.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude was up 3 cents at $49.80 a barrel after dropping to $49.61 earlier.

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screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-16-34-00 By The Motley Fool  Dec 5, 2016

Today I’m looking at the critical reasons to sell out of Royal Dutch Shell (LSE: RDSB).

A drop in the ocean

The oil sector’s major players breathed a huge sigh of relief last week after OPEC — responsible for four-tenths of the world’s oil supply — confounded the expectations of many and agreed to cut its output.

Saudi Arabia brokered a deal that will see production fall by 1.2m barrels per day, to 32.5m barrels beginning in January. The news prompted Brent oil to top the $55 per barrel marker for the first time since the summer of 2016.

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Opec bends the markets

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-08-16-41By Ed Crooks, December 2, 2016

In 451 CE, the great Roman general Flavius Aetius rallied a motley army of imperial troops and barbarian allies, and halted the advance of Attila’s Huns at the Catalaunian Plains in Gaul, buying the empire some time and temporarily interrupting its long-term decline. This week’s Opec meeting in Vienna had something of the same feel about it.

Opec’s power peaked in the 1970s, and the US shale oil revolution of the past half-decade has threatened to consign the cartel’s influence to history. But by agreeing a deal to cut production on Wednesday, the Opec ministers showed that if they all acted together they could still bend the oil markets to their will, at least for a while.

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Exclusive: Saudis threaten to raise oil output again as sparring with Iran returns

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By Rania El Gamal and Alex Lawler | DUBAI/LONDON

Old disputes between Saudi Arabia and rival Iran resurfaced at a meeting of OPEC experts last week, with Riyadh threatening to raise oil output steeply to bring prices down if Tehran refuses to limit its supply, OPEC sources say.

Clashes between the two OPEC heavyweights, which are fighting proxy wars in Syria and Yemen, have become frequent in recent years.

Tensions subsided, however, in recent months after Saudi Arabia agreed to support a global oil supply limiting pact, thus raising the prospect that OPEC would take steps to boost oil prices.

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Shell Says Traders’ Antitrust Claims Not Aided By Rulings

Shell Says Aluminum Ruling Helps Kill Oil Antitrust Claims

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Law360, New York (October 12, 2016, 9:50 PM EDT) — Two Royal Dutch Shell PLC affiliates accused of market manipulation told a New York federal court Wednesday that derivative traders lack standing to assert antitrust claims, citing another judge’s recent decision nixing claims in multidistrict litigation accusing Goldman Sachs & Co. and others of manipulating aluminum prices.

The Shell companies are part of multidistrict litigation accusing various oil companies of manipulating the price of North Sea Brent crude oil and Brent crude oil futures, by engaging in fraudulent physical trades and systematically submitting information about those…

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OPEC decision on daily oil output freeze to have no impact on Shell’s strategy Zoom

OPEC decision on daily oil output freeze to have no impact on Shell’s strategy

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September 29, 2016

Baku-APA. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) agreement to freeze daily oil output will not affect Royal Dutch Shell ‘s current strategy, a spokesman for one of the world’s largest oil companies told Sputnik on Thursday, APA reports quoting Sputnik.

On Wednesday, OPEC oil producing countries agreed a preliminary deal on the sidelines of an international energy forum in Algiers, Algeria. The output ceiling was set at 32.5-33 million barrels a day for the whole cartel. 

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Is OPEC’s Output Deal A Game Changer For Royal Dutch Shell And BP?

Is OPEC’s Output Deal A Game Changer For Royal Dutch Shell And BP?

Royston Wild: Sept 29, 2016

Investors in the fossil fuel sector have finally had cause to celebrate this week after OPEC suggested that an output freeze could finally be in the offing.

The idea had initially been tabled at the start of the year as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Venezuela and Russia got around the table. But Iran’s determination to get the pumps ramped back up to pre-sanction levels put the plan firmly on the backburner.

However, with Tehran’s reluctance to take part in a deal now apparently thawing, stock pickers have become more optimistic over the growth outlook for many of the oil industry’s major players.

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Shell Can’t Duck Crude Manipulation Suit, Judge Told

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By Kevin Penton

Law360, New York (August 24, 2016, 8:24 PM ET) —

Two Royal Dutch Shell PLC affiliates accused of manipulating crude market prices cannot use the Second Circuit’s recent nix of aluminum futures price-fixing claims to escape the allegations the pair face, landowner and derivatives trader plaintiffs told a New York federal court Wednesday.

The appeals court on Aug. 9 had ruled that manufacturers and buyers of aluminum products could not sue Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Glencore PLC, because the plaintiffs were not directly targeted in the alleged scheme to fix prices…

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Shell Units Argue Market-Rigging Claims Lack Jurisdiction

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Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 14.36.15By Cara Bayles

Law360, San Francisco (July 22, 2016, 8:48 PM ET) 

Two Royal Dutch Shell PLC affiliates on Thursday tried to escape allegations of European market manipulation from a proposed class of crude oil derivatives traders, arguing in New York federal court that U.S. courts don’t have jurisdiction over conduct by Shell’s international arm in foreign markets.

The reply in support of the affiliates’ motion to dismiss said the traders were trying to “manufacture claims and jurisdiction where neither exists” by blurring the distinction between two “sister subsidiaries” — Shell’s U.S. arm, Shell Trading US Co., or…

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How Saudi Arabia Turned Its Greatest Weapon on Itself

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By ANDREW SCOTT COOPER: A version of this op-ed appears in print on March 13, 2016

FOR the past half-century, the world economy has been held hostage by just one country: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Vast petroleum reserves and untapped production allowed the kingdom to play an outsize role as swing producer, filling or draining the global system at will.

The 1973-74 oil embargo was the first demonstration that the House of Saud was willing to weaponize the oil markets. In October 1973, a coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia abruptly halted oil shipments in retaliation for America’s support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War. The price of a barrel of oil quickly quadrupled; the resulting shock to the oil-dependent economies of the West led to a sharp rise in the cost of living, mass unemployment and growing social discontent.

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Shell calls for stronger regulation to avoid Middle East oil price distortion

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Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 08.55.47Anthony McAuleyDecember 22, 2015

Royal Dutch Shell is lobbying to reform regional oil trading after a series of price squeezes, particularly by Chinese state oil firms.

In a highly unusual move, Royal Dutch Shell has called for greater regulation of the market to improve transparency and avoid price distortion.

Now, Shell is following up its public call with behind-the-scenes efforts to gather support for change, particularly from the regional state oil firms.

“There need to be safeguards to prevent the risk of distortion, and to ensure the Dubai benchmark price mirrors true market supply and demand fundamentals,” a Shell spokesman said. “Due to some of the unique characteristics of the Dubai market, it is susceptible to and can be heavily influenced by a market participant amassing a large portion of the available three crudes deliverable in that month.”

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Shell calls for tougher regulation of Dubai oil benchmark

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Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 08.55.47HOUSTON/BENGALURU | BY LIZ HAMPTON AND ANKUSH SHARMA: Thu Dec 17, 2015

Royal Dutch Shell PLC on Thursday called for tougher regulation of the Dubai crude benchmark, the Middle East’s most important oil-pricing mechanism, after record trade volumes skewed prices.

Industry players have been calling on pricing agency Platts to review its Dubai assessment, saying record trading by Chinese state companies in August during the Market-on-Close process pushed liquidity to the limit and disrupted Dubai’s relationship with other global benchmarks. The Dubai marker sets the prices for more than 12 million barrels per day of Middle Eastern and Russian crude exports to Asia.

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Big Oil Let Off Hook

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Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc and Statoil ASA no longer face an European Union investigation into potential manipulation of fuel benchmarks, the regulator indicated on Monday. Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

By Aoife WhiteStephanie BodoniPeter Levring and Gaspard Sebag: Bloomberg.com: 7 December 2015

  • EU’s Vestager shows willingness to dump cases going nowhere
  • Commission retreats from high-profile oil investigation

Days after dropping a high-profile probe into some of Wall Street’s top banks, the European Commission quietly sounded the retreat from an antitrust case that’s embroiled some of the world’s biggest oil producers since 2013.

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EU drops Shell, BP, Statoil from ethanol benchmark investigation

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Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 20.10.17Reuters – Mon, 7 Dec 2015 17:58 GMT

By Philip Blenkinsop and Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS, Dec 7 (Reuters) – EU antitrust regulators have dropped Shell, BP, and Statoil from an investigation into suspected rigging of ethanol benchmarks, focusing instead on three producers of the biofuel.

The European Commission said on Monday it had opened a formal antitrust investigation into the actions of Spanish company Abengoa SA, Belgium’s Alcogroup SA and Lantmännen ek för of Sweden.

In April, EU antitrust regulators raided several bioenthanol companies and at the same time stepped up a two-year investigation into biofuel price benchmarks. In 2013, it searched the offices of BP, Shell and Statoil too.

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Oil Firms Dropped From EU Probe Into Fuel-Price Manipulation

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By Aoife White: December 7, 2015

  • Crude oil sector no longer under investigation in case

  • EU steps up case focusing on ethanol benchmarks rigging

Oil companies, including Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc and Statoil ASA, no longer face a European Union investigation into potential manipulation of crude oil benchmarks.

The European Commission “is currently not investigating further behaviors in price benchmarks for the crude oil sector,” Ricardo Cardoso, a spokesman for regulator said in an e-mail. He said the EU’s current probe focuses “on price benchmarks for the ethanol sector.”

Raids on Shell, BP, Statoil and price publisher Platts in May 2013 over suspected benchmark-rigging echoed probes into banks for trying to fix the London Interbank Offered Rate and foreign exchange markets. EU antitrust regulators levied 1.7 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in fines later that year over Libor manipulation.

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OPEC ‘dead’ as oil countries go it alone on price and production

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December 7, 2015

OPEC has abandoned all pretence of acting as a cartel. It’s now every member for itself.

At a chaotic meeting Friday in Vienna that was expected to last four hours but extended to nearly seven, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries tossed aside the idea of limiting production to control prices. Instead, it went all in for the one-year-old Saudi Arabia-led policy of pumping, pumping, pumping until rivals – external, such as Russian and US shale drillers, as well as internal – are squeezed out of market share.

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Nigerian Probes Uncover $12bn Oil Fraud

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Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 17.18.45In 2012, the Senate investigated the contentious Malabu Oil Field transaction. The Upper House re-opened investigation into an allegation of $1.1 billion round-tripping involving the federal government and two international oil companies – Shell and Eni (Agip) – over the sale of a contentious OPL 245 oil block.

BY EDEGBE ODEMWINGIE AND BODE GBADEBONov 10, 2015 

The National Assembly has conducted 18 legislative probes into sundry cases of crude theft, pipeline vandalisation, misappropriation, Joint Venture agreements, missing crude revenue in Nigeria’s corruption-tainted oil and gas sector from 1999-2014.

According to the outcomes of the selected major probes in the oil sector, about $15bn was lost to fraud while a whopping $6.8bn subsidy was unaccounted for. The period also witnessed the alleged missing N500bn SURE-P claims for oil subsidy for a period of time.

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EU Said to Ramp Up Oil-Benchmarks Probe With Evidence Request

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Regulators may be moving toward sending antitrust complaint

Probe began two years ago with raids on BP, Shell and Statoil

By Gaspard Sebag and Javier Blas: BLOOMBERG.COM: 17 Sept 2015

Major oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell Plc and price publisher Platts were told by regulators to redact business secrets from documents obtained during antitrust raids in a sign the European Union may be moving ahead with a two-year-old probe, according to four people familiar with the investigation.

The redaction request could be a precursor to the European Commission sending a formal complaint, or statement of objections, to some of the firms, said the people who asked not to be named because the investigation into fuel-benchmark rigging isn’t public.

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Royal Dutch Shell, BP plc Oppose New European Oil Trading Regulations

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By: MICHEAL KAUFMANPublished: May 21, 2015 

Royal Dutch Shell plc (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) has sided with oil rival BP plc (ADR) (NYSE:BP) in calling on European regulators to step back from enforcing tougher new capital requirements and increased disclosure measures pertaining to oil trading. The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive or Mifid II regulations are being introduced by the European authorities, which will be applied in 2017. The regulations include capital requirement directive (CRD IV) the purpose of which is to mitigate systemic risks in the commodity, fixed income and equity markets.

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Oil Price Fixing

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 20.23.44FROM A REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR

Campaigns by or on behalf of Shell

It’s interesting that we have campaigns (one fronted by BP, but backed by Shell, and the other fronted by Shell’s lawyers, de Brauw) which will have the effect of avoiding regulation of oil trading activities, and will also decriminalise fraud for companies in Holland.

Both have been highlighted on your site in recent weeks.

Given the issues surrounding the banks’ manipulation of Libor and Forex, and the complaints by Total to the EU that Platt’s oil prices are not representative of the market, both of these proposals should be given very close scrutiny – the oil companies concerned cannot be trusted (any more than the banks) to exercise control of the market for their primary product.

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Shell joins BP in calls against excessive oil trading regulation

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Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 16.05.44May 20 2015 | By: Carl Surran, SA News Editor

Shell joins BP in calls against excessive oil trading regulation

  • Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) joins BP in calling on European regulators to refrain from imposing stricter capital requirements and greater disclosure measures on oil trading.
  • Regulators would achieve undesired effects if companies and trading houses were forced to follow stricter capital requirement rules or be limited in their ability to trade derivatives, Shell VP for trading Mike Muller says, seconding recent statements from BP trading division chief Paul Reed.
  • Both BP and Shell trading divisions employ hundreds of people and trade millions of barrels of oil and refined products every day, and Shell’s trading business will become even bigger when it finalizes its acquisition of BG Group.

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US CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST SHELL AND OTHERS FOR OIL PRICE FIXING

(NOW UPDATED WITH 98 PAGE DOCUMENT FILED 24 APRIL 2015 WITH THE U.S. COURTS)

A 194 page Complaint filed in the US Courts two months ago confirms that investigations are underway by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the EU Commission and the UK Serious Fraud Office into an alleged oil price-fixing conspiracy involving Shell, BP, Statoil and others. 

The plaintiffs provide what they describe as “concrete evidence” within the Complaint of oil price manipulation.

A link to the entire 194 page document is provided.

Extracts from 194 page Court document dated 27 Feb 2015

SECOND AMENDED CONSOLIDATED CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT FILED 27 FEBRUARY 2015

Case 1:13-md-02475-ALC Document 308 Filed 02/27/15

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

I. NATURE OF THE ACTION

1. This action arises from manipulations of North Sea Brent Crude Oil Market  (defined herein) by Defendants Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Limited (“STASCO”), Shell Trading US Company, BP pic (“BP”), BP America, Inc., BP Corporation North America Inc., Statoil ASA (“Statoil”), Statoil US Holdings Inc. (“Statoil US”), Morgan Stanley Capital Group, Inc. (“MSCGI”), Trafigura Beheer B.V., Trafigura AG, Phibro Trading LLC (“Phibro”), Phibro Commodities Limited, Vitol, S.A. (“Vitol”), Vitol, Inc., Hess Energy Trading Company, LLC (“HETCO”), Mercuria Energy Trading S.A., Mercuria Energy Trading, Inc., (collectively, “Defendants”) since at least 2002 through the present (the “Class Period”).

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Shell Subsidiaries Want Oil Price-Rigging Suit Dumped

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 21.26.38From an article by Aaron Vehling published 7 April 2015 by LAW360.com

Shell Subsidiaries Want Oil Price-Rigging Suit Dumped

Law360, New York (April 07, 2015, 6:31 PM ET) — Two Royal Dutch Shell PLC affiliates on Tuesday urged a New York federal court to dismiss them from a multidistrict litigation accusing them of manipulating crude oil futures, arguing that the plaintiffs haven’t alleged facts to justify the affiliates being named in the suit.

Shell Trading (US) Co. and Shell International Trading and Shipping Co. Ltd., which replaced Royal Dutch Shell in the suit after the plaintiffs filed their second amended complaint in February, urged the court to dismiss claims accusing them of participating in a…

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EU investigates price fixing in energy markets

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 18.53.03The latest development follows the Libor rigging scandal and the raids carried out in May 2014 on the oil majors BP, Shell and Statoil, seeking evidence of manipulation of oil prices.

By John Donovan

On Tuesday, investigators for the EU Commission raided several companies producing and trading in biofuels.

According to the commission, the surprise inspections resulted from possible collusion when submitting price information to a price reporting agency.

The latest development follows the Libor rigging scandal and the raids carried out in May 2014 on BP, Shell and Statoil, in an investigation seeking evidence of oil price manipulation.

More information can be found in a Financial Times article by Alex Barker:

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Royal Dutch Shell News Monday 29 Sept 2014

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 14.02.38By John Donovan

A selection of current news articles about Royal Dutch Shell from around the globe:

Oil price fixing

According to a Bloomberg article published by energyvoice.com, the UK is considering whether to criminalize manipulation of the world’s most-traded crude-futures market.

Extract

The UK is toughening the rules after the rigging of Libor and related gauges resulted in $6.5 billion in fines for at least 10 companies. European Union antitrust authorities raided the offices of companies including BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Statoil ASA in May 2013 amid allegations of collusion and price manipulation in crude, refined products and biofuels markets.

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BP, Shell, Morgan Stanley seek end of oil price-fixing lawsuit

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Extracts from a Reuters article by Jonathan Stempel published Tuesday 29 July 2014

(Reuters) – BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Morgan Stanley and other companies urged a U.S. judge to dismiss nationwide litigation claiming they conspired for 12 years to fix prices of Brent crude oil, a benchmark for the cost of gasoline and heating oil.

In papers filed on Monday night in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the defendants said there was no evidence they colluded to manipulate spot prices or intended to do so, in violation of U.S. commodity and antitrust laws.

They also said that because the alleged manipulation took place outside the United States and was governed by foreign law, U.S. courts had no authority to handle the case to begin with.

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Shell found guilty of fuel price fixing in Italy

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By John Donovan

An article published yesterday in Italy reports that Shell Italy SpA  been convicted of abuse of a dominant position by using discriminatory practices in the fuel distribution market, affecting retail fuel prices. This was before Royal Dutch Shell sold its Italian retail network to Q8 (Kuwait Petroleum).  

Such manipulation cannot possibly be in accordance with Shell’s claimed business principles. 

Printed below is a Google translation of the article into English. Happy to substitute a more accurate translation if anyone cares to supply it. 

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Investigators seek breakthrough a year after EU raided Big Oil

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 01.06.41By Gaspard Sebag, Lananh Nguyen and Andy Hoffman: Bloomberg News 12 May 2014

Twelve months after raiding oil companies and Platts in a hunt for evidence of possible manipulation of price benchmarks, European Union officials are looking for a breakthrough. On May 14 last year, EU investigators had to leap into a taxi cab to Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA)’s trading floor on the Strand in central London after arriving at the wrong destination — the company’s London head office on the opposite side of the River Thames – according to one person familiar with the antitrust raids on that day. Lawyers say such mishaps are common during so-called surprise inspections — especially where officials lack the guiding hand of an immunity applicant. “All Shell companies fully cooperated with the EU commission during the inspection at our offices and will continue to do so as the commission’s investigation proceeds,” Ross Whittam, a company spokesman said.

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Royal Dutch Shell employees warned about giving perjured testimony

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 01.06.41Shell staff were reminded recently of the obligation to be truthful if called upon to testify under oath. They were also reminded that even when testifying as a Shell employee on behalf of Shell, they were personally liable for the consequences of any untruths or misleading statements that they made.

DEFINITION OF PERJURY: The deliberate, willful giving of false, misleading, or incomplete testimony under oath.

From a Regular Contributor

I heard on the grapevine that Shell staff were reminded recently of the obligation to be truthful if called upon to testify under oath. They were also reminded that even when testifying as a Shell employee on behalf of Shell, they were personally liable for the consequences of any untruths or misleading statements that they made.

It may seem surprising to some people that senior Shell staff needed to be reminded of their legal obligation to be truthful when testifying. I also understand that some Shell employees were surprised to learn that they were personally liable for the consequences of any misleading statements they made when testifying on behalf of their employer.

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Hess, Mercuria Added to Brent Crude Oil Price-Fixing Lawsuit (1)

Mercuria Energy Trading SA and a Hess Corp. (HES:US) unit were added as defendants to a lawsuit claiming they conspired with oil companies including BP Plc (BP/), Statoil ASA (STL) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) to manipulate Brent crude oil prices. “By providing false or inaccurate information and engaging in false or sham trading, defendants undermined the entire pricing structure for the Brent crude oil physical and futures markets,” the investors claimed in their new complaint.

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Brent Oil price benchmark ‘in urgent need of reform’

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 16.05.25Extract from an article by Roland Gribben published by The Telegraph on 22 April 2014

Brent Oil, the pricing benchmark for two thirds of the world’s oil supply, is “crumbling” and is in urgent need of reform, a new study into the market argues. The study emerges as oil companies, traders and agencies responsible for reporting and monitoring prices examine the scope for changes to restore confidence and limit EU or US intervention and regulation they fear would be damaging and costly. A European Commission team raided the head offices of BP, Shell and Statoil as well as the London offices of Platts, the leading price reporting agency, last year in the search for evidence of price fixing and business behaviour similar to the rigging of the Libor benchmark by banks.

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Kuwait suspects corruption in $800 million Royal Dutch Shell contract

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 00.46.28Seems to me that the Kuwait government is being very diplomatic and the word “corruption” should be substituted for “irregularities.” In my experience, despite pledges to the contrary in its sham ethical code, Shell senior management is content to turn a blind eye to corruption. Lets face it, the entire Royal Dutch Shell Group was built on illegal activity, including oil price fixing.

By John Donovan

A question of possible “irregularities” seem to have arisen in relation to an $800 million service contract awarded to Shell by  the state owned Kuwait Oil Company.

Extracts from a report filed by the Kuwait News Agency:

Minister of Oil Ali Al-Omair underlined that the government will not condone or cover up any irregularities in petroleum sector deals and it will take all necessary action to protect public funds. Since its signature in February 2010, the five-year contract with Shell was the subject of much debate in Kuwait. The former parliament had formed a special committee to probe procedures leading to the awarding of the enhanced technical services agreement to Shell. The contract was awarded to Shell to help Kuwait develop its newly-discovered non-associated natural gas fields in the north of the country, after initial production hurdles.

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Peter Rees reappears but mystery remains over his exit from Shell

Peter Rees QC

Peter Rees QC

“Rees’ departure from Shell prompted much speculation in the City, given the company’s recent profit warnings, the on-going European Commission investigation into oil price-rigging and the arrival of new CEO Ben van Beurden.”Mr Rees has refused to comment on the circumstances of his unexpected and unexplained departure from Royal Dutch Shell during a financial crisis. 

By John Donovan

Peter Rees, until January Legal Director of Royal Dutch Shell Plc and an executive director of the company, has resurfaced at London Chambers “Thirty Nine Essex Street” as a counsel and commercial arbitrator. A considerable fall in prestige. He led a 1,000 strong legal department at Shell.

The reason for his sudden department from Shell days before the company issued a profits warning that shook the markets was said to be known by only three people other than Rees- Peter Voser, the retiring CEO, Ben van Beurden, the incoming CEO, and HR boss, Hugh Mitchell.

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Illicit activities of Royal Dutch Shell snared in NSA surveillance programs?

It would be ironic if Shell, a company that was publicly exposed for engaging in spying, undercover activities and dirty tricks operations against its perceived enemies, such as Greenpeace and John Donovan, are exposed again, this time by government secret surveillance programs.

By Washington Observer

Over the last year or so there have been a number of revelations about the telecom data collection capabilities of the National Security Agency and how those capabilities have been used – see informative Washington Post article index facility: “NSA Secrets.”

We shall presume that given the treaty arrangements between the US and the UK (and Canada, New Zealand, and Australia) that the British Secret Service is also involved in similar activities and that there is a great deal of cooperation between the agencies.

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BP and Shell suspected manipulation of oil prices

Extracts from an article by Alex Lawler published on 6 March 2014 by Reuters

BP says U.S., Asia regulators ask for details after EU price probe

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 01.06.41(Reuters) – BP Plc said regulators from the United States and Asia have asked it for information after the European Commission’s started an investigation last year into suspected manipulation of oil prices. London-based BP, Europe’s second-largest oil company, made the disclosure in its annual report released on Thursday. Last May, European authorities raided offices of BP, and Royal Dutch Shell and Statoil in an investigation of suspected price manipulation. “Related inquiries and requests for information have also been received from U.S. and other regulators following the European Commission’s actions,” BP said in its 2013 annual report, published on its website.

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Benchmark in Jeopardy

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Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 01.06.41Straining to solve a problem that might be illusory, European regulators soon might create real problems by increasing the volatility of an important crude oil price marker. Worried that shenanigans might reach beyond financial markets, the EC expanded its proposal to encompass commodities, including oil. In May, the EC and European Free Trade Association Surveillance Authority unveiled investigations into suspicions that representatives of Shell, BP, and Statoil had distorted trading information they provided Platts. Results of those probes have yet to be reported.

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Fixing the fix

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The European Union wants to change how commodity benchmarks are set

BRUSSELS: Feb 8th 2014

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 01.06.41“THE oil price” has a comforting ring of clarity about it. But in reality many benchmark prices for oil and other commodities are merely estimates based on incomplete information from unregulated, illiquid markets. …the European Commission last year raided BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil (all oil firms) and Platts (the biggest PRA) in an investigation of possible market-rigging. An American regulator, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is investigating price-fixing by trading houses and oil companies. Many see similarities to scandals involving financial benchmarks such as LIBOR, which purported to track the price of loans between banks in London, but turns out to have been manipulated with gusto.

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Price-rigging probes jammed by oil industry bid to protect its secrets

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 01.06.41The case alleges collusion to manipulate spot prices among Shell, BP, Statoil, Morgan Stanley, Vitol, the Dutch trading giant Trafigura Beheer BV and others since 2002…

Joel Kirkland, E&E reporter:

A U.S. investigation into whether the world’s biggest crude oil traders fix prices has sparked an escalating and high-stakes court battle over the disclosure of records.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Vitol Group and Plains All American Pipeline LP have joined Morgan Stanley in a federal court case that aims to stop mounds of trading data given to U.S. regulators from being used in civil cases alleging market manipulation by a trading house controlled by Norwegian shipping magnate John Fredriksen.

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Argentina Accuses Shell of Conspiracy After Price Increase

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 07.56.54Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Argentine unit was accused of conspiring against the country’s interests by Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich after the oil producer increased fuel prices following a devaluation of the peso. “Shell’s attitude and the one from its highest executive is conspiratorial and against the interests of the country,” Capitanich told reporters this morning in Buenos Aires. “The only explanation for this behavior is greediness.”

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Feb 3, 2014 7:08 PM GMT

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA)’s Argentine unit was accused of conspiring against the country’s interests by Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich after the oil producer increased fuel prices following a devaluation of the peso.

Shell boosted prices an average 12 percent at its service stations, which represent 18 percent of the Argentine market, the company said in an e-mailed statement published by local newspapers today. The company’s previous price increase of 6.8 percent was on Jan. 2, before Argentina moved to weaken the peso 15 percent from Jan. 22 to Jan. 23, the largest drop since 2002.

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Shareholders have grounds to bring lawsuits against Royal Dutch Shell Plc?

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 07.56.54According to an informed source, there is significant potential for shareholder lawsuits against the directors of Shell on the basis of their failure to control spending, possibly in breach of both their fiduciary obligations and internal corporate procedures. The expenditure of $26 billion on “unconventionals” suggests that in North America spending was completely out of control. Message to the mainstream media. Check with your lawyers. I believe they will confirm the likelihood of a flood of class actions lawsuits. 

By John Donovan

According to an informed source, there is significant potential for shareholder lawsuits against the directors of Shell on the basis of their failure to control spending, possibly in breach of both their fiduciary obligations and internal corporate procedures. The expenditure of $26 billion on “unconventionals” suggests that in North America spending was completely out of control. Comments on this site and in the press suggest that little of this expenditure is likely to be recovered, with multi-billion dollar write-downs of US assets expected to be a feature of Shell’s accounts for years to come.
 
The Brent price fixing investigations have been largely stalled by Shell’s actions in attempting to block the sharing of discovery information between the various government agencies investigating the allegations. The sharing was authorised by a federal court, but this ruling has been appealed by Shell, effectively stalling the process.
 
A cynical view is that the major projects in Alaska, Pennsylvania and Louisiana (and possibly unconventionals) were primarily about buying political influence. In states where employment is a major issue much of the business of congress is taken up with bringing home “pork” to their home states and landing these projects would have been major achievements for the congressmen concerned.
 
The cancellation of the Louisiana GTL plant, the doubts surrounding the viability of the Pennsylvania petrochemical facility, and the indefinite postponement of the Alaska exploration programme should be seen as both a means of reducing capital expenditure by Shell and as a means of putting pressure on the US government. The reality is that Shell can ill-afford any of these projects.

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Links to a selection of recent articles relating to Royal Dutch Shell

Links to a selection of recent articles relating to Royal Dutch Shell kindly supplied by a regular contributor

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 01.06.41Benchmark in Jeopardy: Oil & Gas Journal-Jan 27, 2014: … by increasing the volatility of an important crude oil price marker. … unveiled investigations into suspicions that representatives of Shell, BP, …

Price-rigging probes jammed by oil industry bid to protect its secrets: Environment & Energy Publishing-Jan 17, 2014: Shell and Vitol, the Switzerland-based multinational oil trader, are pressing the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a lower court ..

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Shell still trying to duck handing over oil price rigging evidence

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 01.06.41Shell is still desperately trying to avoid handing over potentially incriminating evidence in the form of documents and audio recordings in connection with a proposed US class action lawsuit alleging that oil prices were rigged.  

By JohnDonovan

Shell is still desperately trying to avoid handing over potentially incriminating evidence in the form of documents and audio recordings in connection with a proposed US class action lawsuit alleging that oil prices were rigged.

“Shell Oil Co., Morgan Stanley Capital Group Inc. and Plains All American Pipeline LP told the Second Circuit on Thursday that a lower court exceeded its authority in allowing the disclosure of sensitive documents provided to federal investigators.” (Extract from Law360 article)

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Voser wisely abandons an unstable ship

I have bad news for Shell. A whistleblower who has major safety concerns with the Prelude flagship vessel destined for Australia, has supplied me with potentially explosive information. I am in possession of a considerable amount of internal information and photographic material. The person in question has been intimately involved in the project at a high level and is deeply concerned that warnings issued to Shell (and other parties) have been ignored and financial considerations are taking priority over safety issues. The whistleblower is very concerned about mismanagement and the alleged use of totally unqualified personnel.   

By John Donovan

Peter Voser could not wait to ease Jeroen van der Veer out of the top job at Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

He was full of enthusiasm and itching to implement his plans, which included making hundreds of Shell executives reapply for their own jobs.

Mr. Voser now has only days left as Chief Executive, with Ben van Beurden about to receive what he may view as a poisoned chalice.

Voser’s sudden decision to jump ship for a “lifestyle change”, announced several months ago, took many by surprise.

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Oil Probe Document Disclosure Won’t Be Delayed

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 01.06.41Crude oil traders including Morgan Stanley and Royal Dutch Shell Plc lost a bid to temporarily block disclosure of millions of trading records and other documents from a six-year U.S. probe while an appeals court hears the case. The files include e-mails, depositions, trading records and audio files.

Screen Shot 2012-11-19 at 09.32.24 By Bob Van Voris: December 10, 2013 Crude oil traders including Morgan Stanley (MS:US) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) lost a bid to temporarily block disclosure of millions of trading records and other documents from a six-year U.S. probe while an appeals court hears the case.The federal appeals court in New York today denied the request, lifting a temporary stay on the disclosure entered Nov. 20. The court today also denied the oil traders’ request that it hear their appeal on an expedited basis.U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley on Oct. 25 ordered the documents, originally gathered by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission as part of a probe begun in December 2007, to be given to a group of private plaintiffs claiming price-fixing in the crude-oil market. Pauley restricted access to the most sensitive material.The files include e-mails, depositions, trading records and audio files.The CFTC on May 24, 2011, accused Parnon Energy Inc., which is controlled by billionaire John Fredriksen, of manipulating the prices of West Texas Intermediate crude. Two days later, a private plaintiff sued Parnon, seeking to represent a class of everyone who traded in WTI derivative contracts from Dec. 1, 2007, until at least May 31, 2008.

Pauley hasn’t yet ruled whether he’ll let the case proceed as a class action.

The case is In Re Crude Oil Commodity Futures Litigation, 11-cv-03600. The CFTC case is U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Parnon Energy Inc., 11-cv-3543, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The appeal is U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Parnon Energy Inc., 13-04206, Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Van Voris in federal court in Manhattan at [email protected]

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