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January 22nd, 2006:

Reuters: Hopes rise for Nigerian hostages

By Daniel Flynn
ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigerian officials raised hopes a Briton and three foreign hostages could soon be released after receiving a recent photograph of the oil workers at a meeting on Sunday with a representative for the militants holding them.
The hostages were abducted from an offshore oilfield on January 11 by militants who have demanded the release of two ethnic Ijaw leaders and waged a month-long campaign of sabotage against oil facilities in the world's eighth largest exporter.
Diplomats were cautiously optimistic the photograph and meeting signified progress in the 11-day-old hostage crisis, but expressed some doubts about government assurances that it would be over within days.
“The (state) governor is saying that it should be resolved in 12 to 24 hours, but they have been saying the same thing for the last 10 days,” one diplomat said. “It sounds very good. It looks very positive, but I'm still suspicious.”
Another diplomat said he had been informed after the talks the hostages would be freed soon if the government promised no military reprisals against the militants, whose attacks have cut a tenth of Nigeria's oil output.
The militants have promised to carry out more attacks very shortly.
The photograph showed the hostages — an American, a Bulgarian and a Honduran as well as the Briton — in apparently good health and sporting beards, indicating it was taken recently, diplomats said.
A spokesman for the Bayelsa state government said authorities were using community leaders as go-betweens because the militants did not want to talk directly to authorities.
“We are making progress. We hope the hostages will be released in the next few days,” the spokesman said.
The hostages complained in a call to Reuters on Thursday of diarrhoea and fatigue from being constantly moved around the humid mangrove swamps.
The militants had threatened to kill all the hostages if U.S. hostage Patrick Landry, who was ill, died. Landry's health has apparently improved and the threat of execution has abated.
In an email sent before Sunday's meeting, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said it could hold the hostages for years.
The group's key demand is the release of militant leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari and former Bayelsa state governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
Oil unions have threatened to leave Nigeria's restive delta, which produces almost all the nation's oil, if the security situation deteriorates. Dozens of people have been killed in the well-organised raids and bombings by the militia.
The campaign has helped pushed world oil prices to four month highs and oil industry sources say the political aims of the militants mean unrest may last until elections next year.
An uprising before 2003 polls hit 40 percent of Nigeria's oil production.
“Even if the hostages are released, their demands cannot be met, so will they give up the attacks or carry on?” said a senior oil industry source.
Alamieyeseigha, impeached last month for money-laundering after escaping arrest in Britain, is a political foe of the president and a major scalp in his war on corruption. Asari is on trial for treason after leading a bloody insurgency in 2004.
“I would be extremely surprised if the government agreed to free them,” said Mosto Onuoha, a professor at the University of Nigeria.
The militants are also seeking $1.5 billion (847 million pounds) from Royal Dutch Shell in compensation to villages for oil spills and more local control over the Niger Delta's oil wealth.
So far, Shell is the only oil major to say it has suffered. It has cut its production by 210,000 barrels a day and pulled out 500 staff. Hundreds of contractors have also fled.
France's Total and Italy's Agip, a unit of ENI, have both denied militant claims they were attacked. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Yahoo! News: Venezuela cuts Shell tax bill to 13 million dollars

CARACAS (AFP) – The Venezuelan government has announced its reduction of a demand for back taxes and interest against a unit of Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell to 13 million dollars.
Although still a hefty sum, the new tax demand is significantly less than the 131 million dollars the authorities had demanded from the oil major's local unit last year.
Shell signed an accord with the government last month deepening its commercial ties with the state-owned Venezuelan oil company, PDVSA, after Caracas said it and other foreign energy groups had failed to meet the requirements of a 2001 law.
The law mandated 16.6 percent royalties and income taxes of 50 percent on petroleum production.
In mid-August, the authorities briefly shut down Shell's offices for 48 hours as tensions over the law mounted.
Spain's Repsol, Brazil's Petrobras, Japanese group Teikoku, and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) have also signed agreements relating to the 2001 law. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Reuters: Group threatens to keep hostages for years

LAGOS, Nigeria – Ethnic militants holding four foreign oil workers hostage in the Niger Delta threatened on Sunday to keep them for years if necessary and repeated demands for Nigeria to free two Ijaw leaders.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, which has crippled a tenth of Nigeria’s oil supply, promised fresh attacks in the region and on “soft targets” across Nigeria if President Olusegun Obasanjo did not free the two men.
“In countries such as Colombia, hostages are kept for years. We can do (the) same,” said an e-mail from the militants, who abducted the captives 11 days ago from a Royal Dutch Shell offshore oilfield.
The Ijaw group, which demands local control over Nigeria’s oil heartland, has made the release of militant leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari and former Bayelsa state governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha its key demand.
“If Asari and Alamieyeseigha are not released as we have expected, we will escalate attacks in the Niger Delta and extend them to soft targets around the country,” the statement said. “Attacks on such facilities will be aimed at crippling economic activity.”
Many fuel storage facilities across Nigeria offered no resistance to assault, said the group, which has also warned truckers not to drive petroleum tankers or face violence.
Dozens of people have been killed in well-organized raids by the heavily armed militia and oil unions have threatened to withdraw their workers if the situation worsens.
The campaign has already helped push world oil prices to four month highs and analysts say the political aims of the militants means unrest may escalate before 2007 elections.
Hostages said to be in good health
A spokesman for the Bayelsa state government, coordinating the response to the attacks, said authorities had received a photograph of the hostages and assurances that the American, Briton, Honduran and Bulgarian were all in good health.
In a telephone call to Reuters on Thursday the captives had complained of diarrhea and fatigue from constant movement in the humid mangrove swamps. American Patrick Landry, who suffers from high blood pressure, was particularly ill, they said.
“We are making progress. We hope the hostages will be released in the next few days,” said the spokesman.
The militants, darting by motor boat around the maze of tidal creeks in Nigeria’s extreme south, said on Saturday they had not yet opened talks with anyone and insisted the government must negotiate directly with the two jailed Ijaw leaders.
Alamieyeseigha, impeached last month for money-laundering after escaping arrest in Britain, is a political foe of the president and a major scalp in his war on corruption. Asari is on trial for treason after leading a bloody insurgency in 2004.
“Each man has a serious court case pending over his head … I would be extremely surprised if the government agreed to free them,” said Mosto Onuoha, professor at the University of Nigeria. “The government is in a difficult position.”
The militants are also seeking $1.5 billion from Shell in compensation to villages for oil spills. Even if this is paid, the group has said it will continue its attacks, focusing on other operators.
So far, Royal Dutch Shell is the only oil major to say it has suffered during the group’s month-long campaign of violence. It has cut its production by 210,000 barrels a day and pulled out 500 staff. Hundreds of contractors have also fled.
France’s Total and Italy’s Agip, a unit of ENI, have both denied militant claims they were attacked. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

The Independent On Sunday: Energy savings begin at home, DTI says

By Tim Webb
Published: 22 January 2006
Greater energy efficiency for households and transport will be promoted in the Government's long-awaited Energy Review, which will be launched tomorrow. The initiative will propose grants for the “fuel poor” – poorer households – to insulate their homes and cut down on carbon emissions.
The consultation with business and the public will last three months and focus on five main areas: nuclear power; renewable forms of energy such as wind; energy efficiency; reducing carbon emissions; and fuel poverty.
Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that he wants a decision on the main question – whether to build more nuclear stations to replace old reactors and coal-fired plants – by the summer.
The review comes after the chief executive of Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, Jeroen van der Veer, admitted it would be another 20 to 30 years before renewable forms of energy became “really big business”.
One chief executive of a UK company, which is developing renewable such energy projects as wind and landfill gas, argued that there was little incentive for large oil companies to develop renewable projects more quickly. He said that because the scale of the projects is tiny compared to the majors' core oil and gas businesses, renewables were not a priority.
For example, BP's Alternative Energy division generated $400m (£226m) of revenue in 2004 out of total annual revenues of $200bn. In contrast, “it's hard for smaller companies to raise funds to develop renewable technologies,” he added.
Energy analyst Nigel Hawkins said Shell realised that long-term investment in renewables could provide an alternative source of revenue if profits from selling oil fell in the future.
However, he added: “Oil companies also realise the PR value of emphasising their environmental credentials.”
A spokesman for BP said it would be “some years to come” before its Alternative Energy division played a key role in its business. “We do not pretend that the investment is material at this stage.”
Last week, the price of carbon increased by almost a fifth to €27 (£18.50) per ton to move close to its record high of €29 per ton.
Higher gas prices following cold weather in Europe and concerns over supply from Russia have encouraged power stations to switch to coal. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Arkansas News: S's gone wild: Southwestern, Schlumberger and Shell pump millions into Fayetteville Shale

By Wesley Brown
What does a Houston company with Arkansas roots, a French conglomerate headquartered in the Big Apple and a Dutch oil giant with Texas ties all have in common?
Southwestern Energy, Schlumberger Ltd. and Shell Oil, the three respective companies described above, represent the three levels of what could be billions of dollars in investment in the hot Fayetteville Shale play.
These companies alone announced late last year that they will invest more than $1 billion in possibly the hottest natural gas field on earth.
Houston-based Southwestern said just a few days before Christmas that it plans to invest more than half of its $830 million 2006 budget to develop natural gas wells in the giant Arkoma Basin, which stretches across half of the state.
“Our capital program in 2006 … will be heavily weighted toward the Fayetteville Shale play in Arkansas,” Southwestern Energy President and CEO Harold M. Korell said.
The company's $400 million budget this year for the burgeoning Arkansas natural gas portfolio represents a 123 percent hike over the $175 million spent last year. So far, more than 50 wells have been drilled on the nearly 900,000 acres that the company owns in Franklin, Conway, Van Buren, Cleburne and Faulkner counties.
John Thaeler, senior vice president at SEECO, the Fayetteville subsidiary of Southwestern, said the region could see upwards of another $90 million, depending on the outcome of current test drilling.
In oilfield circles, Southwestern is known as an independent producer. Unlike the so-called “majors” that have their hands in the oil business from the drill bit to the refinery to the gas pump, independents mainly focus only on drilling and producing crude oil and natural gas, and then selling it on the international market.
The company left Fayetteville several years ago for Houston, the boom-and-bust Texas city that is now considered the oil capital of the world.
Meanwhile, experts have known for years that the shale region of Arkansas has large natural gas reserves. But the natural gas is contained in shale-dominated, fine-grained rocks in depths ranging from 1,500 to 6,500 feet, making it costly and difficult to extract, said Ed Ratchford, geology supervisor for fossil fuels at the Arkansas Geological Commission.
Now, with new technology and investment dollars siphoned from record natural gas prices, there has been a modern-day gold rush to obtain the mineral rights on the formation so developers and wildcatters can begin exploratory drilling.
It was Southwestern that contracted Schlumberger a few years ago to seek ways to exploit the shale reservoirs of western Arkansas.
Schlumberger is known as one of the Big Three oilfield conglomerates, along with Baker Hughes and Halliburton. The company has heavily invested in gas shale research and is known throughout the oil industry for its downhole technology expertise.
It was the former Paris-based multinational that developed a full line of key technologies – such as 3D imaging, reservoir software and hydraulic well monitoring and measuring – that now allow natural gas developers to extract gas from the porous shale rock.
Together in Houston now, after Schlumberger's recent announcement that it plans to move its U.S. headquarters from New York City Texas, the two companies have helped to draw hundreds of other natural gas speculators to the region.
But it is The Hague-based Royal Dutch Shell plc, one of the largest publicly traded companies in the world with annual revenues of $306 billion, that will put a stamp of legitimacy on the unconventional natural gas play.
Like Southwestern and Schlumberger, the oil giant commonly known as Shell Oil announced near the end of last year that it is coming to Faulkner County.
Shell said that it has acquired the rights to explore on 70,000 acres in the emerging shale play and plans to drill its first well this year.
Schlumberger, with annual revenues exceeding $11 billion, has already begun construction on a regional office at a 20-acre site in Conway's industrial park that will ultimately employ 100 locals.
Before that, Southwestern opened offices in the growing central Arkansas city and will eventually hire up to 150 people there.
If other oil majors like Exxon-Mobil, BP, Chevron and ConocoTexaco join Shell and the others, the payout for the state's economy will be enormous. And Conway, now known as a college town, will join the ranks of the nation's few boomtowns.
Wesley Brown is business editor for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. His e-mail address is [email protected].
  read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Business Week: Nigerian militia leader threatens attacks

Business Week: Nigerian militia leader threatens attacksAssociated Press/LAGOS, Nigeria
Associated Press Writer

An American worker held hostage in Nigeria is sick and his kidnappers will kill three fellow hostages if he dies, a militant leader threatened Saturday.
Brutus Ebipadei of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta did not offer details on the condition of Patrick Landry, a ship captain from Houston, or say why his group would kill hostages from Britain, Bulgaria and Honduras if he died.
“They're drinking the bad water we're drinking and experiencing the conditions our people have suffered for decades,” Ebipadei said.
If Landry dies, “we'll have no choice but to kill the remaining ones,” Ebipadei said. He did not say why.
Landry's son, Dwight, of Eunice, La., said in an interview Saturday that his father had a stroke in 1998 and had not taken his medication for high cholesterol and blood pressure since the Jan. 11 kidnapping.
Dwight Landry said he had heard an audio clip of his father asking that his captors' demands be met.
“I could hear the desperation in his voice, I could hear the panic and I could hear the fear,” he said.
Ebipadei said the kidnappers refused to negotiate and he reissued a threat to launch new attacks on installations in the oil-rich Niger Delta.
“Our demands are not negotiable. And failure to meet those demands means we will launch attacks on all oil installations to stop Nigeria's capacity to export oil,” Ebipadei said.
The militants demand the release of a former regional governor and a militant leader who pushed for greater local control of revenues from the delta. They also want $1.5 billion in compensation from Royal Dutch Shell, Nigeria's largest oil producer, for alleged environmental damage.
Nigeria, Africa's leading oil producer, exports about 2.5 million barrels of oil a day, making it the fifth-largest source of U.S. oil.
Militant members of the 8-million person Ijaw tribe that dominates the delta have long agitated for a greater share of oil wealth. Ebipadei has claimed responsibility for a spate of attacks that included the kidnapping of the four foreigners from a Shell oil platform last week.
A major Shell pipeline leading was blown up the next day and more attacks followed in other areas.
The attacks have cut the OPEC-member nation's crude output by nearly 10 percent. Shell has evacuated hundreds of workers since the unrest began.
Ebipadei said negotiators sent by the government to secure the hostages' release “are traitors to the Ijaw cause and we're not ready to deal with them.”
Officials nonetheless expressed optimism about negotiations.
“People are pleading with them, and the pleas are beginning to reach them,” state government spokesman Ekiyor Welson said.
On Friday, the State Department called for the release of the four captives, while a British diplomat said his country was pressing Nigeria not to use force to free them.
The militants are demanding the release of militia leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari and former Bayelsa state Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. Dokubo-Asari was jailed in September on treason charges, while Alamieyeseigha faces extradition to Britain, after jumping bail there on money laundering charges.
Problems in the Niger Delta, along with concern over the Iranian nuclear dispute and new threats of al-Qaida attacks on the U.S. helped push up oil prices Friday.
Britain's Press Association has identified the kidnapped Briton as Nigel Watson-Clark, a former paratrooper and father of three from Saltford who was working as a security officer. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Petroleum News: Crude prices climb to 3-month high of $66

Possible sanctions against Iran drive oil prices up; violence in Nigeria, IEA forecast of reduced OPEC production also factors
Brad Foss
Associated Press Business Writer
Crude-oil prices charged to a three-and-a-half month high above $66 a barrel Jan. 17 amid growing unease about the possibility of sanctions against Iran, OPEC’s second-largest producer, because of its nuclear ambitions.
Rising violence in oil-rich Nigeria contributed to the runup of more than $2 a barrel, as did a reported refinery snag and a forecast from an international energy watchdog calling for reduced non-OPEC crude output in 2006.
February crude futures leaped $2.39 to settle at $66.31 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest close since Sept. 29, when oil finished at $66.79.
Futures prices for fuels refined from oil, such as gasoline and heating oil, also soared.
Analysts said that unless there is a quick resolution to the dispute between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear program, oil prices could soon climb above $70 a barrel and even test the Aug. 30 all-time high of $70.85.
“Seventy-dollar crude is on the way,” said James Cordier, president of Tampa, Fla.-based Liberty Trading. “It’s almost a done deal.”
But analysts cautioned that oil prices at that level for any sustained period of time could considerably slow economic growth, and dampen energy demand.
“The calculus of perpetually higher prices assumes that nothing will change,” said oil analyst John Kilduff of Fimat USA in New York. Kilduff said he is not comfortable with such an outlook because it discounts the likelihood that higher prices will eventually lead to reduced demand, and thus lower prices.
For the time being, however, energy traders must deal with strong global demand and a potentially serious threat to oil supplies on the horizon.
“The Iranian nuclear issue is driving the market,” said Tetsu Emori, chief commodities strategist at Mitsui Bussan Futures in Tokyo. “The issue poses a threat of supply disruption in a major oil-producing country.”
Analysts also said recent attacks on oil facilities in Nigeria — Africa’s leading oil exporter and the fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports — were supporting crude’s rise. Amid the rising violence in Nigeria, Royal Dutch Shell PLC said it was forced to slash output there by another 115,000 barrels per day, bringing total production cuts to 221,000 barrels per day.
Negotiators were working Jan. 17 to free four foreigners held hostage in the nation’s southern oil region as militants claiming to hold the captives said they would target oil installations if their demands were not met within days.
In London, March Brent crude on the ICE Futures exchange rose 99 cents to $64.17 a barrel.
Heating oil futures surged 7.65 cents to close at $1.7915 a gallon while gasoline futures advanced 9.22 cents to settle at $1.8233 a gallon. The jump in refined product prices was a reflection of the higher oil price, as well as a reaction to a reported shutdown of a New Jersey refinery.
Natural gas futures also rode higher on the back of the oil-market rally, gaining 37.7 cents to $9.168 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Russia and China on Jan. 16 joined the U.S. and its European allies in demanding that Iran fully abandon its nuclear program. The powers called for an emergency board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Feb. 2-3 to discuss the issue.
The West fears Iran intends to build an atomic bomb, but Iran claims its program is intended only to produce electricity.
Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency on Jan. 17 reduced its forecast for non-OPEC supply growth by 100,000 barrels per day, but left its forecast for world oil demand this year unchanged at 85.1 million barrels a day, up more than 1.8 million barrels a day against last year.
The group also projected that Chinese oil demand bounced back from weakness late last year, with an expected near-7 percent growth in December.
However, Cordier said the IEA’s forecast doesn’t adequately address the possibility of sanctions against Iran and the possible global economic implications if the country’s oil output declines as a result.
“Sanctions definitely mean crude oil off the market,” said Cordier, who added: “There’s no question it comes to a point where we’re going to slow global growth at $70 a barrel.” read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Petroleum News: U.S. turns attention to shale, tar sands

BLM leasing oil shale properties as part of Energy Policy Act of 2005 push; nominations received, awards expected in spring
Gary Park
For Petroleum News
While Canada lags far behind the United States in exploiting coalbed methane and shale gas, the U.S. is venturing into one of its northern neighbor’s specialties.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management took the first steps in December towards leasing oil shale and tar sands prospects in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming by initiating efforts to establish a regulatory regime for commercial development.
It is part of a push under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to open up more unconventional resources by allowing commercial leasing of oil shale and tar sands in 2007.
The targeted areas for oil shale are the Piceance and Washakie basins in Colorado, the Uintah Basin in Utah and the Green River and Washakie basins in Wyoming.
Some estimates put the resource at 1 trillion barrels, although only a small percentage is likely to be recoverable.
Tar sands opportunities are believed to exist in some sedimentary regions of the Colorado Plateau in Utah, similar to the bitumen deposits that are key oil sources in Canada and Venezuela.
Advances in technology targeted
The bureau hopes that advances in extraction technologies will make it possible to avoid the negative environmental impacts when oil shales were leased on federal lands in the 1970s, but careful steps will be taken to prevent a repetition.
Oil shale research, development and demonstration projects started in June when the bureau invited bids for 10-year, 160-acre properties covering a total 16,000 acres in the three states. That area is thought to hold 2.6 trillion barrels of oil.
Nominations have so far been received for 10 parcels in Colorado, eight in Utah and one in Wyoming, with bidders including Chevron, ExxonMobil, Anadarko and Royal Dutch Shell. Contracts are expected to be awarded this spring.
Canadian technology may be needed
But embarking on U.S. shales may involve a transfer of technology from Canada.
At a meeting last summer between U.S. lawmakers and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the congressional representatives started probing their guests about the chances of applying oil sands technology in the shales.
Not that the Canadians were unwilling to share their know-how but they made it clear that there is a considerable difference between oil sands (where the a grain of sand is coated with water and oil, posing the challenge of breaking the bond between oil and water), while with shale oil, the oil is bonded directly to rock, making it much harder to separate.
Oil sands pioneer Suncor Energy has learned that lesson to its cost, writing off a C$200 million investment in an Australian shale oil venture, conceding that its technology worked only in a test environment.
CAPP President Pierre Alvarez has said the shale oil puzzle needs a major research and development undertaking.
He said a massive R&D effort is required to exploit 70 percent of oil trapped underground and that, in turn, demands a coherent North American energy policy at a time when both the U.S. and Canadian governments have drastically reduced their research budgets. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Petroleum News: Shell names three top Alaska officials

Shell Exploration & Production Co. named three top officials for its Alaska operation Jan. 19.
Rick Fox is Alaska asset manager, Cam Toohey is Alaska government and external affairs manager and George Ahmaogak Sr. is Alaska community affairs manager.
Alaska Exploration Manager Chandler Wilhelm said the company was pleased with the years of leadership and “wealth of Alaska knowledge” the three bring to the company’s Alaska team. “Shell’s ambition is to be in Alaska for a long time, starting in the Beaufort Sea,” he said. Although production is years away business planning and stakeholder engagement work is already under way, he said in a statement.
Fox has been with Shell for 30 years, most recently as operations capability manager based in Louisiana. He has also been responsible for the Shell Robert Training Center, Operations Recruiting and Training. Earlier in his career Fox worked in Alaska’s Bering, Beaufort and Chukchi seas and was lead drilling foreman on the Chukchi Sea exploration team.
Fox, Alaska asset manager, will also be incident command officer, oversee logistics and help build a workforce development plan for Alaska.
Toohey, a lifelong Alaskan, has been special assistant to the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Toohey will be responsible for Shell’s government and external affairs activities in Alaska, and will work with stakeholders to develop Shell’s Alaska sustainable development and social performance plans, outlining how Shell will manage impacts of its business on residents and communities in Alaska.
Ahmaogak, a lifelong Alaskan, was formerly mayor of the North Slope Borough, president of Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corp. and Piquniq Management Corp. and a member of the Interior’s National Outer Continental Shelf Policy Committee.
His primary responsibility will be to engage with local communities, such as those on the North Slope.
Toohey and Ahmaogak will join Shell Jan. 23; Fox officially assumes his post Feb. 1. All three will be based in Anchorage. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Sunday Times: Shell in wrangle over Irish sale

Brian Carey
JOHN SWEENEY, the west of Ireland oil distributor and shareholder in the Shelbourne Hotel, is to join the American firm Mandraki Associates in seeking substantial compensation from Shell arising from complaints over the sale of its retail and distribution business in Ireland.
Sweeney and Mandraki bid unsuccessfully for Irish Shell, which includes six oil import facilities, 35 distribution depots and 55 filling stations. They claim that the sale process, which is now the subject of a High Court action, was unfair.
Topaz Energy, a buyout backed by Ion Equity, purchased the retail and distribution assets for an estimated €180m last July, but the deal only closed over a month ago.
It is believed that Sweeney and Mandraki are unhappy about the access it received to certain financial information during the sale. Mandraki has written to the company seeking the repayment of its bid costs of €1.5m and unspecified compensation. It has also sought for the bid to be rerun.
Shell this weekend confirmed that the sale process was now the subject of a legal challenge, but would not identify the party or parties suing.
“We conducted the sale of our Irish retail and commercial marketing and distribution businesses fairly and in accordance with normal market practices,” the company said in a statement. “We confirm that a legal challenge has commenced against Shell in relation to the sale process and that we intend to defend this challenge vigorously.”
Sweeney, 45, is the son of a Clifden publican and one of the largest distributors west of the Shannon. He owns the Station House Hotel in Clifden and the Johnstown House Hotel and Spa in Co Meath. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.
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