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February 4th, 2006:

Petroleum News: Nova Scotia waters hold ‘win-win’ gas find

Shell Canada and EnCana might be sitting on the brink of a deal — but not the blockbuster Shell takeover of Canada’s largest independent oil and gas producer that was circulating late in 2005.
This one could cost Shell US$1.5 billion, give it 950 billion cubic feet of new natural gas reserves and bail it out of a tightening corner off Canada’s East Coast.

For Scotia Capital analyst Greg Pardy it holds the promise of a “win-win” for both companies — lifting the weight of Nova Scotia’s Deep Panuke field from EnCana, which has shelved the project for three years while it engages in a so far fruitless search for additional gas to make the venture profitable.
Shell should have cash
Pardy thinks Shell will have enough cash from operations to cover its C$2.7 billion capital spending in 2006, leaving more than C$1 billion in cash and cash equivalents.
It is also in danger of paying a heavy price for its 31.3 percent stake in Nova Scotia’s Sable gas project, which has a reserve life of less than four years while the company is tied into “take-or-pay” shipping contracts that extend to 2015 under which it will pay for pipeline capacity even if it can’t produce the gas to cover its commitment.
Pardy suggests that in the “absence of a natural gas supply solution, the pressure for Shell to incur an impairment charge in connection with its pipeline commitments may only intensify over time.”
To ease that threat, buying EnCana’s nearby Deep Panuke field would be a worthwhile objective, Pardy said in a research note to clients.
—Gary Park read more

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

Petroleum News: OPEC holds output, prices fall below $68

Crude oil prices fell below $68 a barrel Jan. 31 after OPEC ministers said the group had decided to hold production steady.
Light, sweet crude for March delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped 40 cents to $67.95 a barrel in electronic trading by afternoon in Europe. March Brent crude futures fell 73 cents to $65.86 a barrel.
Heating oil fell nearly a cent to $1.8250 a gallon, while gasoline lost more than a cent and a half to $1.7584 a gallon. Nymex natural gas fell 6 cents to $9.330 per 1,000 cubic feet.
OPEC’s decision had been widely expected after two days of informal meetings by the cartel’s 11 members. Qatari oil minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah said a cut in output would be discussed at the March meeting.
“We’re very pragmatic,” he said, adding that talks about any cuts would take place later.
But Saudi oil minister Ali Naimi, one of the most influential voices in OPEC, said he didn’t believe a cut would be needed at the next meeting.
That sentiment was shared OPEC President Edmund Daukoru, who said earlier that he doesn’t see a cut in the group’s production ceiling as likely when the group meets again, and it wouldn’t affect second-quarter supply if the group agreed to do so.
Decision on production unamimous
Naimi said the groups’ decision to hold steady was unanimous and added that at no time did concerns about Iran’s likely showdown with the west over its nuclear ambitions come to bear on the decision.
The possibility that Iran could be referred to the Security Council for economic sanctions over its nuclear program has kept markets jittery of late.
Iran, OPEC’s second-largest oil producer, insists its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity, but the U.S. and other countries fear the research cold be used to create nuclear weapons.
The U.S., Britain, France, China and Russia agreed Jan. 31 that Iran should appear before the U.N. Security Council, where the five countries are permanent members, over its nuclear program.
They called on the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, to report the Iran case when it meets in Vienna on Feb. 2. The U.N. Security Council could impose sanctions or take other harsher action against Iran.
—The Associated Press read more

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

Petroleum News: Oil Patch Insider

King Ralph promotes King Coal; Pac Com’s oil and gas speaker list heating up, includes Shell
King Ralph — as Alberta’s premier is often labeled — has designs on becoming King Coal. In his annual televised address to Albertans in February he plans to lay out details of a strategy to put coal on the same footing as the oil sands.
Klein said Alberta has enough coal supply to last several hundred years and provide a “source of long-term prosperity” for his already rich province.
Describing himself as a “coal guy,” Klein told the Alberta Chamber of Resources he has learned enough about coal over recent years to convince him that the resource can “play a big role in Alberta’s energy future.”
A breakthrough in developing clean coal technology is key to unlocking coal’s potential, while coal gasification to create synthetic fuel gas would help ease concerns about pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, he said.
Klein said that in addition to using coal to generate power, the resource can also be processed for use in petrochemical and fertilizer industries.
Coal Association of Canada Executive Director Allen Wright, although surprised by Klein’s impending announcement, said his association has taken every opportunity it could in recent years to make a case for coal’s potential.
Currently the resource pumps about C$5 billion a year into the national economy and employs 56,000 directly and indirectly.
National production ranges from 60 million to 70 million metric tons, about 30 percent of which is exported.
British Columbia tops the export list at about 25 million metric tons a year, 5 times greater than Alberta.
—Gary Park
NAC sale announced
Northern Air Cargo and its subsidiaries have been sold to Saltchuk Resources, a privately owned holding company based in the Pacific Northwest. In separate but related transactions, Saltchuck also purchased the Sholton family’s Fairbanks airport facility and supporting ground equipment as well as the remaining assets of Northern Air Fuel.
See the full story in the next Petroleum Directory.
— Kay Cashman
Pac Com’s oil and gas speaker list shaping up nicely, includes Shell
Although still a work in progress, the oil and gas speaker list for Pac Com 2006 — Pacific Construction, Oil and Mining Exposition — is shaping up nicely.
Held in Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena Feb. 22 and 23, the annual Pac Com conference and trade show has nabbed Dave Houseknecht, top research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, to present an update on the state’s natural gas potential with a focus on the latest estimates for northern Alaska.
Houseknecht is speaking on Feb. 23 when the oil and gas portion of the conference will be held in Room 1NE.
Other oil and gas speakers include those listed below. (All the presentations allow time for questions from the audience.)
• For companies looking at bidding in the State of Alaska’s Beaufort Sea and North Slope areawide oil and gas lease sales on March 1, Bill Van Dyke, acting director of Alaska’s Division of Oil and Gas, will talk about the geologic potential of the areas being offered in the sales.
• Former Alaska Department of Natural Resource officials Tom Irwin, Marty Rutherford and others will brief Alaskans on what to watch for in a gas pipeline contract between the state and the North Slope producers.
• Blair Murphy, commercial manager of Alaska North Slope Gas for ConocoPhillips, will talk about the development of Alaska’s natural gas, focusing on the construction of a pipeline.
• Danny Davis, president of Escopeta Oil and Gas, will present an update on the status of a jack-up rig for the Cook Inlet, as well as talk about the basin’s oil potential.
• Shell officials (looks like new appointee to Alaska office Cam Toohey and possibly new asset manager for Alaska Rick Fox) will be on hand to discuss their company’s re-entry into Alaska and the U.S. Minerals Management Service’s 5-year plan for the federal offshore.
Chevron officials have also been invited to talk about their company’s plans for the newly acquired Unocal assets in Alaska.
On Feb. 22 there are also two speakers of interest to the oil and gas industry:
• Kam Shah will talk about business opportunities in the Middle East. Shah is the project manager for the Middle East and North Africa Business Information Center with the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
• Bernard Coakley with the Geophysical Institute University of Alaska Fairbanks is making a presentation about the geology of the Arctic Ocean. (See related story in next week’s Petroleum News.)
To find out about the mining and construction speakers at Pac Com, go to or call (907) 277-7469 in Anchorage.
—Petroleum News read more

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

Petroleum News: Imperial hedging bets

Gas prices, Mackenzie project costs, LNG could still unravel Arctic plans
Gary Park
For Petroleum News
The Really Big Show is on the road in Canada’s north, launched Jan. 25 in Inuvik with a flourish of Native dancing, singing and drumming and enough vows, promises and pledges to apparently remove any doubts that the Mackenzie Gas Project will finally proceed.
But, farther south, project leader Imperial Oil was doing one of the things Imperial does best — injecting a note of caution.
In contrast to the celebration that set in motion a year of regulatory hearings, Randy Broiles, Imperial senior vice president, offered a sober assessment of the project’s outlook.
Speaking to an energy conference at Lake Louise, a resort community in the Canadian Rockies, he again echoed Imperial’s standard caveat that the Mackenzie economics are “thin.”
He said a combination of rising construction costs, eroding natural gas prices and emerging competition from liquefied natural gas could yet be the Mackenzie’s undoing.
“While the Mackenzie would be an important source of supply, LNG imports are expected to dominate the new growth wedge,” Broiles said Jan. 27.
He noted that LNG terminals typically range in size from 1 billion to 2 billion cubic feet per day (compared with the Mackenzie’s targeted start up of 1.2 billion and its potential for 1.8 billion) and nearly 60 new LNG terminals or expansions are on the table in North America.
“Simply put, if new gas pipeline projects like Mackenzie are not competitive with LNG imports, they will not be built,” he said.
“Some people assume that since the Mackenzie project is an onshore, North American pipeline project, it isn’t as large or as complex as an LNG development.
“That’s not the case — Mackenzie is a major undertaking on par with any of the proposed North American LNG projects,” he said. “Our focus for the Mackenzie is ensuring we have a viable project that can compete head-to-head with LNG in the long term.”
However, aside from Imperial’s standard caveats that it must first obtain regulatory approvals and then reach a corporate decision on the economics of building a pipeline, Broiles’ primary focus was on the progress achieved so far in a venture that has already cost the co-venturers C$400 million and involved more than 1,000 documented meetings with northern communities.
Despite the many loose ends — including the need for benefits and access agreements with aboriginal groups, final terms of agreement on fiscal matters, natural gas markets, project costs and the level of shipping commitments — his essential message was that “we’re confident we will go forward with this amazing opportunity.”
Other participants ready
That sentiment was widely echoed by government, regulatory, industry and aboriginal leaders.
“We’re ready,” said Fred Carmichael, chairman of the Aboriginal Pipeline Group, which could own 2 percent to 33 percent of the pipeline, adding the north has had 30 years to “get ready” since a 1977 national inquiry halted the first attempt to develop Canada’s Arctic gas.
Ken Vollman, chairman of the National Energy Board — which is conducting one of two parallel hearing processes along with a Joint Review Panel, charged with assessing the environmental, socio-economic and cultural impact — described the new phase as a “historic undertaking.”
“We’re striving to hear all voices,” he said.
“We have been asked to make a decision on a proposal to build a pipeline system from north of Inuvik to the Alberta border covering nearly (840 miles).
“If approved, this C$7 billion system would be one of the largest projects considered by the board since its creation in 1959,” Vollman said.
Environmental opposition expected
Dealing head-on with what is expected to be one of the most contentious issues, Randy Ottenbreit, the Mackenzie project manager for Imperial, identified the key issues as balancing resource development with the environment — an acknowledgement of the opposition expected from the Sierra Club, the World Wildlife Fund and the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee — and ensuring that First Nations people benefit from the use of their land.
He said the proponents are committed to “demonstrating care for the environment during all phases of the project, before, during and after construction.”
They are also resolved to working with “aboriginal and non-aboriginal northern residents, to provide northern people and businesses opportunities to benefit from the proposed project.”
Access a sticky issue
One of the stickiest matters is already gaining prominence as gas producers outside the anchor field owners — Imperial, Shell Canada, ConocoPhillips Canada and ExxonMobil Canada — are intensifying their case for access to the Mackenzie Valley pipeline.
Devon Energy and EnCana are among the companies renewing their argument that the system is not currently designed to handle production from third parties.
Richard Neufeld, an attorney for the independent producers, told the hearings that if the pipeline receives fiscal support from the Canadian government it should be open to all producers.
“If there is a need for public investment in this project, it ought to be accessible, both physically and contractually, for gas from future discoveries,” he said.
When questioned by Neufeld on the details of possible federal investments, Ottenbreit said he could not provide an answer while discussions continue.
He also said negotiations have yet to determine whether the government will become a significant shipper on the pipeline.
Because of the change of regime in Ottawa, following the Jan. 23 defeat of the Liberal government, Ottenbreit said hopes of completing fiscal terms by mid-2006 will likely be delayed.
Harper: little change in federal policy
Incoming Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in a letter to Northwest Territories Premier Joe Handley during the campaign, indicated there would be little change in federal policy on the project.
He said a fiscal regime, including taxes and royalties, would be a “matter of discussions with all the interested parties” under a Conservative government.
Harper also said his party endorses the “general principles and objectives” of the C$500 million promised by the Liberals over the next 10 years to deal with social and economic impacts of a pipeline.
The New Democratic Party also told Handley it would support any legislation setting up the fund.
Broiles saw no reason to be concerned about the change of administration, noting that Canada has a “long history of stability through changing governments.”
Ultimatum to Deh Cho
With the hearings under way, those aboriginal regions who are in the final stages of wrapping up deals with Imperial to take full equity positions in the Aboriginal Pipeline Group delivered an ultimatum to the Deh Cho First Nations, the last holdout community. Carmichael said a letter has been sent to the Deh Cho giving them until June 30 to take an equity position or lose their reserved seat.
“This project is going to go … with them or without them,” he said.
But Deh Cho Grand Chief Herb Norwegian was typically direct in his response, telling the Globe and Mail that “we don’t accept deadlines on anything. That’s the attitude we get from imperialist oil companies.”
He said the Deh Cho first wants the Canadian government to break a deadlock in land claims and self-government negotiations.
Otherwise, Norwegian said, the Deh Cho are ready to support environmentally sound projects that directly benefit First Nations, at which point the Deh Cho would be “right in the forefront.” read more

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


We have republished the three articles which resulted in EIGHT Royal Dutch Shell companies jointly obtaining a High Court Injunction and Restraining Order against former Shell Geologist Dr John Huong, who in 1997 was the first Shell employee to blow the whistle internally on the fabrication of hydrocarbon reserves. This happened while he was Shell production geologist at the Kinabalu field.
Shell’s action against Dr Huong for alleged defamation has become active for reasons which will soon become apparent. We thought our readers might like to see what ignited the draconian response from Shell against Dr Huong which has included a threat to have him imprisoned.
The prohibited articles are accessible at any time on the DR HUONG category in the left hand column of the main page.
As could have been predicted, the net result of this multinational bully trying to censor the Internet is that the forbidden articles are spreading on to other websites. read more

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

SHELL WHISTLEBLOWER No 2: Third Installment…16 June 04

SHELL WHISTLEBLOWER No 2: Third Installment…16 June 04
Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong
Miri, Sarawak, East Malaysia
Subject: Feedback, Accountability and Role of the Legal Manager
16th June 2004
Shell Malaysia Legal Manager Mr. Thavakumar Kandiahpillai is closely involved in my case and I would like him to continue in his position to assemble answers from individuals named on the circulation list of my letters to Shell. I would like him to supply answers to the following and other important questions I have posed (and will continue to be posed), so that I can publish them for my global audience:

“Does Shell Management in Malaysia promote and support Injustice, Lies, Deception, Cover-up and Conspiracy in the country they operate?”

1. Can you ensure that everyone, including your good self provide answers as to their position in relation to the questions posed below? If you only give brief answers e.g. YES/NO, NO COMMENT etc that would be better than ignoring my questions? Mr. Mohidin Sulaiman (reporting to Mr. Rosli Lompoh) had already given me his reply earlier covered in the domestic inquiry notes of proceedings on Day 5: “I called Mohidin this morning as witness. He asked what it was about and I told him that I would like to clarify some items relating to enlisting the services of my assistant to which he raised his voice and said ‘what the hell this is’?”
2. Do you find that it is acceptable for Mr. Hee Len Hee, the General Manager of Technology and Information Services to not respond to my concerns pertaining to work issues such as work development and competencies, career progression, work dimension, work placement, job description, etc. An email containing the above issues of 29th January 2003 was never responded to nor discussed. Can you accept this kind of behavior and accountability from a manager of the multi-national giant?
3. Do you approve of a domestic inquiry being conducted even though I had responded in my “show cause” letters, that if the company had felt that I was wrong, then its policies in the disciplinary procedures should be followed i.e. issuing reprimands consisting of official oral or written warnings? I asked you again “is it right and ethical to give show cause letter to staff if you have not exhausted the standing procedures of giving warning letters? You might like to start with that. Furthermore, your show cause letter was dated the 10th March (2003), the day I was officially given the sick leave.” Was I wrong to go on sick leave given by Shell medical doctor from 10-11th March 2003?
4. Do you find it acceptable for Shell to humiliate me openly by insisting on a domestic inquiry without any prior formal investigation? Whose good name was defamed in the process, me or “the company and its officers”? I have asked if a formal investigation had been made during cross-examination but the Chairman Mr. Abu Yusuf said “It had been answered” and when pressed further he said “It is not necessary because it had been answered”. I would like to ask you Mr.Kandiahpillai, how the formal investigation was carried out in my case since you are in the disciplinary board?
5. Do you find it agreeable or fair that I should be put under area arrest (“…you must remain in the Miri/Lutong area…”) so that I could not get external advice and help prior to the hearing of the domestic inquiry? Is that lawful? I was also informed that “in event that you fail to present yourself at this inquiry, it will proceed in your absence” I believe this is widely known as a Kangaroo court – definition: an unfair trial in which the rights of the accused and precepts of justice are ignored and the outcome is usually known/decided beforehand.
6. Do you find it right to charge me for being allegedly “absent from work” “without leave and without obtaining our prior consent or permission”, among other dates, the 25th February 2003 (afternoon) where the header of the email is shown below. Was 13:23 an afternoon or not an afternoon?
Sent: 25 February 2003 13:23
To: Chan, Soon-Onn SO SARAWAK-EPT-SMS; Hee, Len-Hi SARAWAK-EPT; Chadwick,Jon
Subject: Grievances
7. Do you find it acceptable that threats were made by Shell to my assistant Mr. Joshua Betie. He was already released from his duty by his superior, the Head of Security, Mr. Abang Razali. My assistant was stolen and an explanation given by Mr. Rosli Lompoh was Joshua’s unavailability to assist due to operational reasons. I have raised my objection that my assistant was stolen from me and I was stressed to find a replacement at the last hour before the hearing at the domestic inquiry. I raised my objection, among others, for the domestic inquiry not to proceed because I was denied “the right to engage an assistant for the domestic inquiry” Despite my protest, the domestic inquiry went ahead to which I said, “I will proceed under protest”
8. Do you find that the way the domestic inquiry was conducted and findings presented to you were made in a professional way? You were in the panel of the disciplinary board together with Mr. Hee Len Hee and Mr. Rosli Lompoh. Do provide copies of the written recording that emerged from the domestic inquiry to most of the members in the letter circulation list for evaluation. Have you given a copy of this recording to the Miri Labor office already as I have formally requested this to be done in my earlier correspondence with you.
9. Do you find it acceptable that all the legitimate objections be addressed before the commencement of reading the charges? I raised my concerns to the chairman and the panel members but were not listened to. The chairman for the domestic inquiry said: “I will not take any more objections” and “we will proceed to read the charges” . What do you say about this attitude?
10. Do you find it acceptable that a domestic inquiry involved a Mr. Larry Chung, the facilitating officer from another company, the Oil Products division of SMEP, headed by Mr. Lim Haw Kuang. Is it proper/lawful that another company should be involved in an internal employee disciplinary matter and that serious unfounded allegations made against me should be disclosed to them or indeed ANY third party? My name was unfairly defamed. I raised this issue because “this arrangement violates the fundamental rules of DI engagement” and I proposed to get an “official view of our legal department” and I was told that the “Legal advisor (Lily Rosita Kusari) confirmed that Larry being one of Shell Malaysian staff can be appointed by Sarawak Shell Berhad to be the Facilitating officer for the domestic inquiry. This is an official view. Domestic here refers to Shell Malaysia”. Is this still true?
11. Was the panel conducting the domestic inquiry competent? What do you say when the accused employee during a cross examination of a company witness to ascertain facts/events/situations was frequently interrupted by the chairman saying “It is repetitive and/or not relevant”. This gave what was supposed to be a domestic inquiry an atmosphere akin to that of a formal court proceeding? Is this professionally correct? For my curiosity, Mr. Abu Yusuf, how many times have you been the chairman or the panel member for domestic inquiries? What kind of training did you receive for this type of work?
12. Do you agree that when the testimonies from witnesses which were read back, agreed, and signed during the hearing were, on the following day, found by me to have been tampered with? This was discovered after a few days (Day 5) into the domestic inquiry. We had an agreement at the onset of domestic inquiry to capture all recordings in verbatim and that any slight changes made should be agreed and documented during the read back. In good faith I signed off the recordings of the print out immediately after the read back.
The Chairman of the domestic inquiry said, “John, based on the testimony that you signed earlier is granted. This is based on the records that were not included were merely your observations, ie the long silence made by CW1 (Max Prins) is due to enable the panel to record the question asked by AE before Max gave his response. In fact, I signaled this to him so that proper and accurate recording of the questions can be made. With regard to Othman for giving me a piece of paper is to enable me to look into the question that was just raised for repetitiveness or relevancy.” Mr. Abu Yusuf, why was my version, the agreed documentation during the read back was found to be different from yours? If what you explained was true then you and your panel members would have defended your “proper and accurate recording” during the read back, isn’t that correct? Do you think that was an unethical act and laced with malice?
Only then did I understand why on the first day the computer and the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) screen were used and that any changes made were observable by all concerned in real time. However the use of the LCD panel was abandoned from the second day onwards till the end of the 10 days of the domestic inquiry. Isn’t this modus operandi a perversion of justice?
13. Do you find that justice is seen and said to be done when Mr. Hee Len Hee, the General Manager for Information and Technology services who was personally involved in the case, was ALSO the same person who testified in the domestic inquiry; the same person who along with Mr. Rosli Lompah and yourself Mr. Kandahpillai were presented the findings of the domestic inquiry. He is also the one who recommended the gravest form of corporate punishment; the one who signed off the subject matter of the letter entitled “DI-Termination Letter” and again the person who told Mohidin to tell me to pick up the termination Letter from Len Hee’s office”. Is this not what is known as a conflict of interest and an abuse of power?
14. Do you agree that I was terminated? If you do, why was I not given the required three months notice or paid cash in lieu of as agreed in the employment agreement?
15. Do you agree that I should have been punished (if any punishment was warranted) with suspension prior to the domestic inquiry due to human resource issues and not committing criminal acts? I was interrogated for 10 grueling days of hearing at the domestic inquiry (probably the longest domestic inquiry ever held). Was it fair to punish me again for another 20 days suspension after the conclusion of the domestic inquiry, then punish me further with the termination and punished me yet again by selling off my leave entitlement without my consent after charging me for absence from work without leave? How many times do you want to punish me for unjustified charges? Was the punishment even commensurate with the alleged charges? I think you will agree with me that we know the answer.
16. Do you agree that some 20 days of outstanding leave entitlement can be robbed from me without my consent? I am very disappointed with you Mr. Rosli Lompoh and your men for taking away my leave entitlement and for drafting the false charges earlier on together with Mr. Hee Len Hee. You accused me of being “absence without leave” and NOT even bothering to find out the truth by carrying out a proper investigation. I am not even comparing my actions with a member of staff from the same company who did not even step into the office for half a year or staff under Hee Len Hee was given oral/written warning. Even if I was wrong, why the double standards? I believe Mr. Hee Len Hee that you know to whom I am referring!
17. Do you find it acceptable in a domestic inquiry whereby the witnesses were not made available by the company to testify in person for the accused employee and had “replied in his email (Mr.Thomas Kuud) to me that he is unavailable” and that Mr. “Rosli Lompoh said that he cannot avail himself because of his role as Acting GM and permanent member of the (Industrial Relations/Employee Relations) disciplinary board? Instead the chairman had suggested that he “can accept written relevant questions that I can pass to them if you have any” Do I have any choice but to go along to produce the questions for them which was apparently answered and I have no chance whatsoever after that to validate their answers? In the light of this understanding, the witnesses I wanted to call to provide testimonies were not made available to me.
Mr. Kandiahpillai, as a Legal Manager and advisor to a SHELL company what are your answers to the 17 questions presented to you and all the members on my letter circulation list below. For the acid test on what is true, just and reasonable, search your conscience and you might then begin to honor the law of natural and fair justice.
It is no good for you Mr. Kandiahpillai and Mr. Rosli Lompoh to threaten me in writing because I am now telling my extended family and my international friends about your personal and professional ethics and conduct.
it is very bad for a company called Shell to claim, in the words of Jeroen van der Veer that “we feel that we are a very professional Group”
May I ask what Mr. Lompoh and Mr. Kandiahpillai are so professional at?
And Jeroen has been openly very concerned with behavioral aspects
Mr. Rosli Lompoh, I am also very disappointed with you for harassing my wife. You called her to your office to speak to her just because I need her to help me to forward an email to your superiors including Sir Philip Watts. Furthermore you laughed, joked and spoke about my poor geological skills just because I exposed the poor technical and commercial homework made for a multi-billion dollars on the Kinabalu field. My wife had also told me that while she was at your office Rosli, you received the most coincidental phone call from Shell Malaysia Chairman Mr. Jon Chadwick who spoke on the same subject and you told my wife what Jon had said.
I consider what you did without communicating to me directly and the most accurately timed phone call to be an aggravated harassment where you both tried to intimidate, embarrass and instill fear in my wife.
Mr. Rosli Lompoh and Mr. Jon Chadwick, had you been in my situation, would you have liked your lovely wives to be treated as my wife was treated by you? My wife was entrusted to me by her parents to be protected and nurtured and I promised them that I will take very good care her. If I ever find out that have caused her any harm whether deliberately or unintentionally, I will lay out the facts before you and then I will surely come to her rescue. Please share this letter with your wives and ask them for their opinions i.e. how do they feel about the way you treated my beloved wife. Do they think it was appropriate behaviour towards the wife of a long serving Shell employee? Women are very good intuitively and my under better than you how my wife and I feel.
Rosli and Jon, I do not expect you or anyone to behave so badly. It sounds more like Mafia underhand tactics than the actions of senior management from a multinational. Can you both tell me and the world the contents of the conversation with my wife?
In due course, I will be writing to Lord Oxburgh who was and is a renowned geologist himself and a rector of the prestigious Imperial College. I would like to present my Kinabalu case before him and seek his professional view on whether the Kinabalu field development was properly made.
By the way, Lord Oxburgh will be chairing the AGM on 28th June 2004 and as I have said before to you Mr. Kandiahpillai and including Mr. Jeroen van der Veer and Mr. Malcolm Brinded the following:
“I would be grateful for a detailed response to my email dated 25th May 2004, or at the very least, an acknowledgment of receipt, with confirmation that a full response is being prepared.
If I do not receive any response in the next few days I will make arrangements to be present at the Shell Transport AGM in London later this month so that I can raise matters directly with Lord Oxburgh in the Q & A Session.
I am sure Lord Oxburgh and his fellow directors would much prefer for you to answer my questions.” – email/Letter dated 1st June 2004
Before we forget, Lord Oxburgh will see for himself personally as to whether my geological skills and competencies were poor as what you Rosli had made jokes about me in front of my wife. Furthermore, I will also show the world my consecutive outstanding staff appraisals accorded to me over the years on my team working abilities and technical excellence in geology. You may be please to know that one of my supervisors is now a professor in the chair of geology at Imperial. If that is not enough then I will get another colleague of mine who was supervising PhD students in geology at Oxford University to say something about my geological expertise. Together we have published a geological notional field development plan on another field. Please forgive me Mr. Rosli Lompoh because I did not know that you have been trained in geology as part of your multi-skilling during your cross posting work in Europe. As I have said before;
“That was in 1996 when I highlighted the poor homework done to a multi-billion dollars project.
I think the time has come to recommend a full technical and commercial investigation into the integrity of how that project was mooted.”
The crisis of the Kinabalu Field is a very unfortunate one and had it been done properly, it would not have been necessary to put in good money already made to rectify all the problems associated with subsequent field development and production which I have pointed out. More importantly, we will be increasing the sweep efficiency by adding far more proven volumes to the reserves, the ongoing issue in the reserves downgrades which is going to cause shareholders to lost billions of dollars in class action suit due to misrepresentation and fraud.
Correspondingly, these erosion in asset value may be expressed in downsizing, closure of certain plants, cost cutting in staff development, outsourcing, staff layoffs, etc – all in the name of globalization; so watch out current and would be employees. Mr. Lim Haw Kuang you worked on the Shakalin Project, did you not? And furthermore you are a protégé of Sir Mark Moody Stuart (SHELL/HAKLUYT MI6 SPY FIRM at Haw Kuang, what about the four strategic thrusts of on sustainable development, cost cutting, portfolio management and best of all “Sweating the asset” including the asset known as PEOPLE. Are the current legal cases at the Malaysian court is the fallout as a result of those strategic thrusts! Good is not good enough.
Mr. Lim Haw Kuang, I feel very disappointed with the way you handle my Kinabalu case. Before I forget, can you Mr. Lim share with us if you both had communicated that Mr. Larry Chung be the facilitating officer for the domestic inquiry since you are the President for the downstream Oil Products.
Mr. Kandiahpillai, since you identify yourself as the spokesman for the rest of the individuals in the letter circulation list, I expect a response from you and an acknowledgement of receipt would be appreciated. Should Mr Kandiahpillai be unable to deliver and provide the accountability, can you Mr. Richard Wiseman, the General Counsel of Shell International, instruct him to do so failing which I may have to direct future news postings to you.
please find below two testimonies about my termination case and a fragment of the written recording made during the domestic inquiry.
Having read and understood the contents objectively and without prejudice to me and/or the Shell, I urge you to provide me feedback as to what you think!
From: Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong
Lot 845, Pujut 4c, Dawai 2, 98100, Miri, Sarawak, East Malaysia
14th May 2004
To: Jeroen Van der Veer [email protected] CMD
Malcolm Brinded [email protected] CMD
Richard Wiseman Richar[email protected] Legal Counsel
Jakob Stausholm Jakob.stau[email protected] External Auditor
Dominique Gardy [email protected] EPA
Jon Chadwick Jon.j.C[email protected] Chairman/MD
Stephen Pang Steph[email protected] HR Manager
Rosli Lompoh [email protected] Acting HR Manager
Mohidin Sulaiman [email protected] Rosli Lompoh’s subordinate
Thomas Kuud [email protected] Capability Manager
Sivapragasan Mailvaganam [email protected] HR
T. Kandiahpillai T.Kan[email protected] Lawyer
Lily Rosita Kusari Lily[email protected] Lawyer
Max Prins [email protected] Technology Coordinator
Hee Len Hi [email protected] Ex-General Manager for Technology
Lim Haw Kuang Li[email protected] Oil Products
Larry Chung Lar[email protected] Oil Products
Haji Abu Yusuf [email protected] Chairman for Domestic Inquiry
Othman Marahaban [email protected] Panel Member for Domestic Inquiry
Ko Tong Poh [email protected] Panel Member for Domestic Inquiry
cc: YB Lee Kim Shin Delivered per hand
Tan Sri Dr. George Chan Delivered per hand
Tan Sri Dato Lee Lam Thye Delivered per hand
Professor Dr. Chandra Muzzafar Delivered per hand
Mr. S M Mohd Idris Delivered per hand
Abg.Razali B.Abg.Abdul Karim Delivered per hand
Joshua Betie Delivered per hand
Does Shell Management in Malaysia promote and support Injustice, Lies, Deception, Cover-up and Conspiracy in the country they operate?
I would like to get a sincere feedback for the above question from all those named under the “To:” list because you are somehow either responsible for me as a former dedicated and loyal Shell staff of almost 30 years standing and/or you are involved directly and/or indirectly with my dismissal case and it will make a whole lot of difference to know which side of the fence you are on; whether you embrace disgraceful conduct when benchmarked against the Shell “Statement of General Principles” in relation to the “Triple Bottom Line” plus “Profits and Principles”.
email: [email protected]
To help you with some food for thoughts, please see the following two testimonies plus a fragment of the recordings during the Domestic Inquiry
Testimony of Mr. Joshua Betie
To: [email protected]. As requested please.
On a date I can’t recall but a few days before the Domestic Inquiry (Dl) involving John Huong commenced, I was approached by John Huong to be his Assistant throughout the whole period of the Domestic Inquiry.
I consented to be his Assistant and asked John to inform the HR people about it.
Later I was informed by John Huong that the HR people through Mohidin that his request cannot be considered on the ground that I was a security officer like Larry Chung who was appointed the Facilitating Officer and that due to Operational Reasons I cannot be John’s Assistant
I advised John to argue his case before the Panel Members that the reason given was not reasonable as there was no Company policy which barred me from being his Assistantant as long as that Assistant was a member of Company staff.
Later I was informed by Abang Razali (the then SM-EP Head of Security) that the Company would take disciplinary action against me for absent from duty if I were to be John’s Assistant.
This message was transmitted by a Company HR staff Mohidin. This to me was a threat because Abang Razali had earlier on given me the permission to be John’s Assistant.
Joshua Betie
Date: Wed, 02 Jul 2003 02:05:30 +0000. [email protected]
Testimony of
Mr. Abg. Razali B. Abg. Abdul Karim
John, With reference to your letter dated 20thJune, 2003 here is my response. I was Head of Security for Sarawak Shell Berhad (SSB) and Sabah Shell Petroleum Company Limited (SSPC) before my retirement in 5th June, 2003.
On first week of April, 2003, my staff Mr. Joshua Betie approached me in my office seeking permission to assist Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong in the Domestic inquiry for which I gave him the permission.
Subsequently, Encik Mohidin Sulaiman (EPH-ERS) of Human Resource Department approached me alone at my office in SSB and he asked me to be the Company’s Facilitating Officer for the Domestic Inquiry. I told him that the case of Dr. John Huong was related to Human Resource issues and was not a criminal case.
Therefore, I have declined to take the case. Furthermore, I told him that I have already given Mr. Betie earlier permission to assist Dr. John Huong in the Domestic Inquiry.
After 4.00 p.m on Tuesday, 15th April, 2003, that is the day before the Domestic Inquiry, I received a telephone call from Encik Mohidin Sulaiman instructing me “to inform Joshua Betie that he cannot assist John Huong at the Domestic Inquiry”.
It was after office hours and since Joshua had gone back and I told me to let the panel of the Domestic Inquiry to inform Joshua the next morning.
Subsequently, Encik Mohidin Sulaiman assured me that “disciplinary action will be taken against Joshua Betie for his absence from duty in the event that Joshua assist John Huong in the Domestic Inquiry.”
Thank you,
Abg. Razali B. Abg. Abdul Karim
1st August 2003, Kuching
(AE): Accused Employee- John Huong
(CH): CHairman- Abu Yusuf
(CW1): Company Witness 1- Max Prins and is the AE’s supervisor, and
(FO): Facilitating Officer – Larry Chung
AE: Max, after knowing and finding out that I was absent what did you do?
CH: AE, the question have been answered.
AE: Did you Max ever ask or instruct someone to conduct an investigation to inquire into the circumstances why I was allegedly failing to attend the weekly meetings referred to in the charges? If no, Why?
FO: Witnesses says he made enquiries.
AE: Mr. Chairman, my question is on conducting investigation and this is a very specific procedure. Can Max answer the question?
CH: CW1 had answered and he mentions he will tender in emails with regard to investigation
AE: Mr. Chairman, may I ask FO, since he has experience during his police days to tell us how a normal investigation must be conducted?
CH: I don’t think this is relevant to this DI
AE: Mr. Chairman, I believe a proper DI requires a proper investigation to be conducted and as the AE, I would like to know how the investigation was conducted properly alleging that I had failed to attend the meeting referred to in the charges?
CH: Would you like me to answer? (looking at FO)
FO: I am not an authority on investigations. However CW1 inquiring into where about of AE and asking him why he did not attend the meetings as mentioned in the charges is investigation in itself. Getting no answer from AE did not help and possibly impede further investigations. This is evident from the fact that it was difficult to contact AE even though enquiries were made with his wife, messages were left for him (AE) to call CW1 and email correspondences were never replied and that may be the reasons why CW1 did not manage to go further. But to me this is an investigation.
AE: FO, can you share with us what the standard investigation procedure of SSB if the company felt that the employee have disciplinary problems
FO: Mr. Chairman, I do not want to venture into being a witness and I would like to state as the FO, I am doing an independent role and if AE so requires to know more, and if deemed relevant to the charges at hand, he may call his own witness to testify later.
Unfortunately the supervisor, Mr. Prins to be cross-examined by the accused employee did not have an opportunity to answer his questions. All the answers were provided fully by
q Mr. Haji Abu Yusuf, the Chairman for Domestic Inquiry &
q Mr. Larry Chung, the Facilitating Officer for the DI.
John Huong
Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong
Some Further Questions for Shell Malaysia Chairman, Mr Jon Chadwick
Mr.Jon Chadwick, can you please share with us what my courageous Bruneians friends thought (and said) about Shell going global – and what about our Sarawak friends going soon to the “Sarawak Talk”.
Jon many of our Peace Corps teachers who taught us 3-4 decades ago have left our country but planted an everlasting good impression of the value systems they instilled in us. When I was in New York, I took the trouble to locate them and was filled with such joyous moments, sharing reminiscences of the good old days at school. I wish I had been given the opportunity to represent our Country at a high level on the International scene and to also make a major positive impact at home, as you have had in your capacity as Chairman of Shell Malaysia. What a pity that you do not appear concerned about your legacy (or reputation) and whether loving and hospitable Malaysians will say in years to come that you have been a great leader, who had helped our community out here in Miri.
You do not seem entirely tuned in to local protocol. For example, I saw you profiled in a Chinese newspaper with a photograph taken with a local dignitary in T-shirt during the last Chinese New Year visit. You posed for a picture with the VIP with your hands on your hip, much like the Texan cowboys would stand, an imagery seen in movies of the Old Wild West. This is a faux pas in our culture; where is your respect for our VIP whom we have elected! Please get your large human resource department personnel through Mr. Rosli Lompoh to help you out with your induction course.
Mr. Lompoh and Mr. kandiahpillai, no matter how much you like to talk about defamation, be it slander or libel about Shell management (including the Malaysian henchmen) there's no way for you to stop the continuous avalanche of bad news. You were the first to sour a wonderful and cordial communal relationship built up around Miri since 1910 and for the last years the inheritance built by our fore-fathers were destroyed and have come to a grinding halt; you just have to listen to the coffee shop talk. I now feel ashamed being identify with Shell.
Mr. Kandiahpillai, I hope you can help all of us to facilitate the resolution to this conflict in some form before the 22nd of June 2004. Only the appetizer has been served to this point and I will have a truce with you till the 22nd June. If you are unwilling to respond like gentlemen and enter into a constructive dialogue on a “without prejudice” basis, then I will reluctantly serve the main course of the menu – it will be sizzling hot and probably rather indigestible. The content of my earlier letter “Without Prejudice” is clear and self-explanatory.
I only hope you will be empathetic and as I have said all along that I enjoyed more than anything other the reconciliation and healing instead of the on-going acrimony for the case.
To my international audience what do you think of Shell?
Can you be sure of Shell?
Shell boast of their staff capabilities – what do you think about the capabilities of Shell’s henchmen?
Do you think Shell care and share for their host government?
Do you think Shell care and share for their Shareholders?
Do you think Shell care and share for their employees?
Do you think Shell care and share for their customers?
Do you think Shell care and share for their suppliers?
Do you think Shell care and share for their competitors? Not hitting them below their belts??
Do you think Shell care and share for the interest groups?
Again, I invite you to share with me your views especially your own experiences with Shell.
[email protected]
Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong
16th June 2004. read more

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Second Installment of Dr John Huong's devastating indictment of Royal Dutch Shell

Second Installment of Dr John Huong's devastating indictment of Royal Dutch Shell
Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong
Miri, Sarawak, East Malaysia
Subject: The Truth behind the Royal Dutch Shell Group Icon
13th June 2004
Now that a torpedo had been fired with the launching of the FEATURE: SHELL WHISTLEBLOWER No 2. Shell Geologist/insider Dr John Huong, fires a broadside at Shell, I will continue to reveal events in my almost 30 year career with Shell, starting with the more recent incidents during the last several years.
Many other workers who are truly sincere and committed in their work are no doubt faced from time to time with the same dilemmas I have experienced; give in to company pressure to keep silent about management misdeeds or be forced to resign – in other words (in the case of Shell), unquestioning loyalty to a ruthless, unethical and oppressive management, or the inner peace which only comes with a clear conscience. I chose the latter path which has been difficult and unpleasant, but good for my soul. A path less travelled!
I have been unable to obtain any redress from this hypocritical Shell management which says one thing yet does another; a bunch of lying and deceitful bunglers, as has been revealed to the whole world by the oil reserves catastrophe which has pulverized Shell’s reputation.
“It sounds preposterous but the facts” reveal the pervasive spread of corrupt practices by this evil multinational. Since Shell operations cover more than 100 countries it must be a matter of great concern that its lack of principles are impacting negatively upon the lives of countless people where they operate. Shell has promoted and therefore encouraged corruption in host governments and government officials. This evil has percolated down through whole societies. We only have to consider the results of a report carried out for Shell in Nigeria which has made news headlines in the last few days e.g.
The Independent: Bribery and corruption put fresh dent in tarnished image of Shell Shell admits blame in Nigeria: “Royal Dutch/Shell has taken responsibility for contributing to the fighting and corruption in oil-rich Nigeria”.
It is very hard for anyone to believe a company with AAA+ rating, endowed with such a high reputation in the past has, due to greed and incompetence, allowed these impossible to value assets to wither away.
Shell’s reputation is now an international disgrace and its credit rating has plummeted to a correspondingly all time low.
Isn’t that an unbelievable departure from what we knew about the Shell Group? Have we switched to a parallel universe? Class action law suits by the bucket full; law suits by customers over tainted gasoline; revelations about Shell’s undercover agents engaging in covert operations against Greenpeace and many other worthy organizations on an international basis; Sir Philip Watts setting up a private force of 1400 police spies in Nigeria; like I said, unbelievable.
Here in my wonderful homeland of Malaysia numerous ex-Shell employees took Shell to court when they were laid off without good reason during the mid 1990s reorganization; hundreds more former Shell employees are taking Shell to the Malaysian Court over the issue of their retirement funds. Mr. Jon Chadwick, the Chairman of Shell Malaysia, has informed staff what he thinks about the outcome of the case. It will be good for Jon to tell us himself what it is all about, especially the closing of the relevant accounts. Fortunately the band of brothers to whom I refer courageously took out a court injunction to prevent such closure. I understand another team of current and former employees are mobilising to launch another related court case over their retirement funds. All of these happenings are also unbelievable – how could a company have sunk so low?
I will at a later date delve into this subject myself because I was told by Shell Human Resource staff that I will receive a third of my retirement proceeds at age 50 but have received no response to my perfectly legitimate request for detailed information about what is due i.e. what precise sum will I actually receive? Due to the uncertainty about my future finances I have had no choice but to explain the situation to my family, thereby adding to their concerns. Isn’t this again unbelievable for a company previously granted the ISO rating for excellence in Human Resource management, to act so badly to employees after winning such a prestigious accolade? My next news posting will contain revelations which will enable readers to judge for themselves the attitude of the ruthless Shell Human Resource personnel who have shown by their hardhearted conduct that their department has no further ambitions for any such awards.
I can tell you that in my latter years with Shell I felt like a fugitive, a liar, although I knew very well that I was telling the truth and acted at all times in accordance with Shell’s avowed ethical principles throughout my working life; this actually made me an outcaste as far as Shell management was concerned.
“When I started with Shell all those years ago I was proud to be an employee of what I considered to be nothing less than the best company in the world; an internationally respected brand and an equally highly respected management.”
After serving, the multi-national Shell faithfully for nearly three decades I have had to start a new working life all over again. I have another request to Shell management; please stop using their advertising slogan where they proudly declare “from the cradle to the grave” – their so-called “care and share” for the employees or “We Care and Share” for the community, when hundreds of ex-employees were really also the uncles and aunts of the handicapped and those in poverty. It is obnoxious to make such claims until Shell management have matched their actions against the slogan.
Unfortunately there are many other examples of Shell’s empty slogans which have been exposed as pure propaganda e.g. “Profits and Principles”. They certainty had that one wrong. It should have been “Profits and No Principles”. And how about the most famous one of all: “You Can Be Sure of Shell”. I doubt that Shell management will be using that slogan again for many years after the flood of negative news headlines in the last several months. The Shell brand name has an entirely different connation these days. It stands for deceit, cover-up, , dishonesty, pollution, corruption, undercover spies, class action law suits, defective gasoline, exploitation of the poorest people on the planet; support of a murderous military regime, etc – arrogance and evil on a breathtaking scale. All brought about by a horrendous MANAGEMENT, including the various individuals named in the US class action law suits alleging fraud and misrepresentation and the those odious individuals still at the helm of Shell, Mr van der Veer and Malcolm Brinded (also named in the class action law suits). Both failed to disclose the true situation to Shell shareholders although they knew about the depleted state of Shell’s reserves since 2002 and possibly before then.
I thought I could have a peaceful and enjoyable retirement with my family after all the years of committed contribution to my work but unfortunately the career was pre-maturely destroyed without good reason by “the company and its officials”, whom the legal Manager has refused and failed to identify. I had mixed emotions yesterday when my beloved son Stephen (18 years old) left for Kuala Lumpur to take an examination and before he left, gave me a gift (a shirt) and wished me a blessed Father’s Day. On the one hand, I still feel embarrassed and humiliated at my early unjustified departure from Shell which has impacted negatively on my family in so many ways. My son knows I am deeply unhappy and that naturally makes him despondent and uncomfortable, particularly at an emotional moment with him leaving on an important trip. Because of Shell Management my long career has ended prematurely and on a sad note at a time when he is looking forward to his future. On the other hand, I feel immensely proud of Stephen and grateful for his kind and thoughtful support. Thank you, my son!
Below is an earlier mail/letter I sent hoping that the top Shell management would intervene and make restitutions to restore Shell’s reputation, instead of continuing with its reprisals.
Here goes the story; “The truth behind the Royal Dutch Shell Group Icon.”
Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong
Miri, Sarawak, East Malaysia
22nd April 2004
Jeroen Van der Veer [email protected]
Malcolm Brinded [email protected]
Rosli Lompoh [email protected]
Hee Len Hi [email protected]
Jon Chadwick [email protected]
Dominique Gardy [email protected]
Jakob Stausholm [email protected]
Richard Wiseman [email protected]
Lim Haw Kuang [email protected]
SUBJECT: The Truth behind the Royal Dutch Shell Group Icon
I have written to you but you haven’t responded. Malcolm, I have earlier forwarded my previous email (5th April ’04) and now I am including Lim Haw Kuang in this list so as to keep him informed. This is a story with a miserable ending as to what could have been a beautiful lifetime story of a remarkable career in Shell Malaysia Exploration and Production which is under the flagship of a prestigious Royal Dutch Shell Group.
Jeroen, I am deeply encouraged and surprised by what you published below
¦ Publication of Group Audit Committee and Reserve Recategorisation reports
Q. The executive summary of the Group Audit Committee’s report and the reserves recategorisation announcement, points to systemic failure within Shell so what action are you [Jeroen] going to take?
A. We have taken three sets of different actions. The first set is all about reserves, how you count it, compliance, how you audit that, how we do that both with our own personnel and what happens with outsiders. So that’s all about reserves. The second set is how Finance reports in the Group and we have already made some changes there. And the third one is, this is all about behaviour. Now, let me explain that. We feel that we are a very professional Group but we have to make sure that all those professionals have, in our worldwide organisation, the most appropriate behaviour for the future. So, for instance, make sure that if there is bad news, it doesn’t stay somewhere in the ranks but that it makes its way to the top so that we can handle it.
19 April 2004
Jeroen and/or Malcolm, take note that the Shell Management in an Operating Company had not taken the proper steps to institute discipline at workplace under their command. As a result my career of nearly 30 years was crippled and subsequently destroyed while I was protecting the share-holder's and other stake-holder's interests. I am dying to tell you and the world all about it to clear the humiliation and shame you did to me and members from my extended family worldwide.
I was told during the reconciliation at the Labor office (29th August 2003) by Siva, a Shell representative (and witnessed by a Shell lawyer and another staff) that there was a “conspiracy” in my case:
Siva, the SSB (Sarawak Shell Berhad) representative for the reconciliation when asked by Puan Nur Huda (Labour Officer) said
? That he did not wish to reinstate me nor
? Did he wanted to make any payment as agreed by both parties
I gave my side of the story why I should not be “terminated” and/or constructively dismissed
At the end of the meeting, Siva said
Siva: I do not agree with what Dr. Huong have said – that there was a conspiracy!
John: I beg your pardon Siva; for within these hours of reconciliation Puan Nur, I have never use the word “conspiracy”
Siva: He murmur something to himself and when he continued, he said “From all that you have said”.
John: Thank you very much Siva for the facts I presented surrounding my case, you have come to a conclusion that there was a conspiracy and for indeed there was a conspiracy then. Thank you very much.
Added footnotes for clarity: Present at the meeting, the Shell team consists of SIVA is abbreviated name for Mr. Sivapragasan Mailvaganam the Manager for Employee Services and the Lawyer was Mr. Thavakumar Kandiahpillai, the Legal Manager and Mohidin Sulaiman, an executive for industrial relations who reports Mr. Rosli Lompoh, the acting Head for Human Resource and Capability management for Sarawak Shell Berhad.
Please confirm with Jon Chadwick if the conspiracy saga is true and while you are talking with him you might want to ask what he is currently doing with regards to the ongoing court case and the injunction appeal to prevent the closure of the accounts involving hundreds of Malaysian ex-Shell employees. May be you are not in the picture and would like him to give you a full account! If he does not want to provide you with the information and/or the information is hard to obtain, please ask me and I will give you the ACCURATE bad news for your decision making.
I have asked in my previous letter (5th April 2004) to you asking:
“May I know who are the Executive director and the Executive Chairman for Exploration and Production business in Malaysia”
Following that letter, and not long afterwards, I was directed to an article in “The Star” online, (16 April 2004) which says:
“Shell Malaysia appoints new managing director” where Mr. Raja Ahmad Murad Raja Bahrin was named as the Managing Director for Shell Refining company (FOM) Bhd
However, the Shell Refining Company Bhd. (3926-U) is under the Oil Products Division of SMEP. Is the caption in the above taken to mean that Mr Raja Ahmad Murad Raja Bahrin is also the managing Director for the Shell Malaysia overall, including the exploration and production arm?
I want to clarify that I was employed by the first of these six companies namely,
1) Sarawak Shell Berhad (71978-W)
2) Sabah Shell Petroleum Co. Ltd (993229-W)
3) Shell Sabah Selatan Sdn. Bhd. (228504-T)
4) Shell Petroleum (Malaysia Limited (993418-M)
5) Shell Oil and Gas (Malaysia) LLC (993830-X)
6) Shell Exploration and Production Malaysia, B.V. (993963-V)
These companies are collectively located under the umbrella of Shell Malaysia Exploration and Production (SMEP). Who are the Executive Managing Directors for all these companies? Is Jon Chadwick the Executive Chairman or Non Executive Chairman for SMEP? Is he also wearing the hat for Sarawak Shell Berhad as the Executive Managing Director?
In consonant and in confidence with Jereon, I would also like to acknowledge and thank you Malcolm Brinded for your confirmation that the “Statement of General Business Principles” is still highly well regarded and is applicable to the “Triple Bottom Line” (Financial, Environment, Social/ethics) while promoting sustainable development in “Profits and Principles”:
¦ The Independent: How a sure thing became a City liability
By Katherine Griffiths, Banking Correspondent.
Mr Brinded, who has taken over the hot seat (from Van de Vijver) of trying to run Shell since Sir Philip stepped down, maintained that “honesty, integrity and respect for people” remained a “beacon” by which Shell did business. If so, that leaves many questions unanswered as to why the individuals who were involved in exploration and production erred so dramatically.
20 April 2004 –
The Operating Companies (OPCOs) where I worked was very well known for many years (since mid 1990s) as the model company for the Shell Group and I do not know if that is still true. It is interesting and will be most revealing as to how the various techniques employed have brought about peaked performance. Why was SMEP so successful in meeting all the critical success factors asked for in the scorecards and would you in the present Committee of Managing Directors like to know more about it? Do share my story with Lord Oxburgh and Mr.Aad Jacobs because it will probably help them to understand better the facts and fictions found in the missing chapters, if any, which may not be captured in the 450 pages of “Davis Polk and Wardwell Report”. Please help me to extend this email to them because I do not have their addresses.
It is very interesting to see how crucial information concerning the well being of business owners in Shell could not be communicated to the very top management albeit the many CONTROL instruments made available in the Shell arsenals. Were the control instruments designed for use to effectively filter the ACCURATE & PROFOUND bad news stemming from workplace thereby helping the company to project a reputable image? People surveys were done and the score was excellent overall. However as I walked along the corridors I heard generous amount of mourning and groaning. As in my case, I have observed that the Management hides behind the Decision-Making by Consensus concept that is tactically devised to “solve” any problems. This process invokes divide-blame-divert-smudge-excuse and promises to deliver from lessons learnt – a very costly exercise!
Jeroen, how would you personally feel if after you have faithfully served Shell for all of your working life, you have to go through the above nightmare? In my case I have informed Sir Philip Watts in mid 2003 my predicaments but he was stone silence on the issue and the matter had since escalated and moved to the Malaysian Ministry of Human Resources. What are you going to do now that you are the captain of the Shell Ship? By the way, was Sir Phil Watts using the same watery maneuver to resolve the current fiasco on hydrocarbon reserves downgrades when asked by the investors?
The article below suggests that whistle blowers come from high places and includes a Senior Shell manager who confessed that he was tired of lying. They have given their versions of the stories on what they know factually about the criminal activities going on within the Shell organization. The same article is challenging another would be whistle blower from middle management who knew, and have not feared to lose his job. That editorial by Mr. Reece was very prophetic indeed and I can confirm whole heartily that there was indeed an axed Malaysian Shell employee who did not conform to Shell management norms and values in producing lies, deceit, cover-up, and the list goes on. That person…. me of course! At least I can stand before God with a clear conscience that I have been a good steward to my shareholders who are owners of the Shell business. How do you like my story, gentlemen? It is very hard to accept this factual story because the liars have now become so naked and exposed to the very depth of their being; isn’t it? That was in 1996 when I highlighted the poor homework done to a multi-billion dollars project. I think the time has come to recommend a full technical and commercial investigation into the integrity of how that project was mooted.
Do blame Mr. Damian Reece for teasing me, a middle management staff to tell you about my hardship while at Shell since the 1997 episode in exploring and producing hydrocarbon and the subsequent ordeal. Here it is:
¦ The Independent: Revealed: the bitter power battle that put Shell in the firing line
By Damian Reece, City Editor
The question remains why there was not another whistle blower. The answer is that those in middle-management who knew, feared they would lose their jobs if they spoke out.
20 April 2004
I have not lost my bearings amidst all the inhumane treatment and I have got help from my extended family to humble the Shell Management who not only have treated me badly and in the same token have hurt members of my extended family all over the world. Now that the bad news which are accurate have reached you to the very top; when will you Jeroen and/or Malcolm respond to my letter telling me what you are going to do to help me? What, how and when are you going to take away my humiliation, pain, sufferings and the nightmares that your managers who professed to be leaders have done and have kept so quietly and secretively from the investing community. I look forward to seeing the fruition of your positive promises presented.
Malcolm, I understand that you are coming to Miri, Malaysia soon. If you think you are ready to begin at restoring the good name of Royal Dutch Shell and to preserve the Shell icon in a caring way then I would be willing to meet you and discuss a way through this impasse.
John Huong
Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong
20040422Dic revised on 26th April 2004 for a typo-error
End of Mail/Letter
It is very telling on the 10th June 2004 international news pertaining to assessment given to Shell by Calpers or the never-ending horror stories (and the fallout as a result of Shell operating in Nigeria, as already mentioned).
“POWERFUL US investor Calpers – the California Public Employees' Retirement System
– has put the Shell oil group on its hit list of companies with
poor governance
– a humiliation for the giant which used to pride itself on its
high standards.”
A compendium of ills about Shell on the 10th June by various news reporters!
o “a series of poor practices and calls on independent directors to put them right.”
o “Shell are underperformance, flawed accounting and 'apparent inadequacy of controls'.”
o “Its managers have power through 'priority shares' to reject shareholders' ..”
o “keeps outsiders out of top jobs”
o “Anglo-Dutch oil group … need to boost performance.”
o “facing wider questions about boardroom structure and share performance.”
o “struggling to restore investor confidence after four downgrades of its reserves”
o “ousting of chairman Sir Philip Watts and exploration director Walter van de Vijver.”
o “Shell executives failed to satisfy the influential investor at a recent meeting in New York”
o “look at the role of the chief executive and management succession.”
o “Shell's shares had lagged behind their peers for five years”
o “the board had failed to respond effectively to shareholder demands.”
o “disclosures (of reserves) forced it to delay publication of its annual report”
o “Corporate governance reforms are needed for these companies (Shell included)”
o “to restore long-term profitability and investor confidence,”
o “If we (Shell) have not implemented changes, we are in the process of implementing them.”- ????
o “calling for Shell to appoint a committee of independent directors”
o “ to undertake a rigorous re-examination of the group's management,”
o “ to undertake a rigorous re-examination of its succession planning,”
o “ to undertake a rigorous re-examination of nomination of independent directors,”
o “ to undertake a rigorous re-examination of composition of its board,”
o “(Shell) may have to quit onshore production in Nigeria”
o “ 93-page survey also said Shell itself “feeds'' the violence”
o “ past two chairmen, Philip Watts, 58, and Mark Moody-Stuart, 63, worked in Nigeria”
o “(Shell) has inadvertently fed corruption, poverty and conflict in Nigeria through its oil activities”
o “etc, etc…”
For now, what do YOU think about Shell Managers, their attitudes towards their host governments, their behaviour to employees and fellow citizens? Should the world imitate Shell cultures and embrace their value systems ultimately making it a norm for the world at large under the pretext of globalization?
Should we let the worst excesses in human nature run rampant, a lust for greed and power, as has happened at the top of Shell?
Dear readers, please bear with me because the journey of discovery about Shell is long, muddy and murky. After the events I witnessed during my latter years at Shell I feel ashamed that I did not speak out earlier about the unethical unforgivable conduct of Shell management.
I have posted my first article on Shell Home page under the “Tell Shell” feature and I would like Shell to honour the integrity of truthful feedback by not removing the materials and/or content from the site. Otherwise why bother to “Tell Shell” if Shell only wants to feature positive contributions – probably an extremely rare posting these days! To be fair to readers I will post what is true and when I need clarification and feedback, I will use the instrument of “Tell Shell” in the forlorn hope that Shell management will respond like gentlemen and in all sincerity to mend their ways.
A message to Shell management: please do not keep treating us all as fools by expecting us to believe your platitudes and your promises to restore Shell’s reputation when you continue to display all of the same attitudes which have caused the current indelible stain on a once great brand. You have no credibility left. It is deeds not words which are needed. You have had your opportunity and failed miserably. I repeat that it is time for a fresh start with completely new management.
Readers, please feel free to contact me direct at: [email protected]
I would especially love to hear from former and current Shell employees, so please contact me.
Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong
13th June 2004. read more

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

FIRST INSTALLMENT: SHELL WHISTLEBLOWER No 2: Shell Geologist/insider Dr John Huong, fires a broadside at Shell

FEATURE: SHELL WHISTLEBLOWER No 2: Shell Geologist/insider Dr John Huong, fires a broadside at Shell
Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong
Miri, Sarawak, East Malaysia
10 June 2004
Dear Mr Alfred Donovan.
I will appreciate very much if you can help me to post my initial article at your website.
This article is only the appetiser…
I will supply for publication further informed comment and revelations in the run up to Shell's AGM on 28 June. It will include examples of the toxic combination of arrogance, greed. dishonesty, and blatant disregard for all ethical norms by Shell Management, that has culminated in the current shame heaped upon the once proud Shell name.
Thank you.
Dr. John Huong
Along the profound story lines (italics bold) by eminent Mr. Alfred Ernest Donovan representing Shell Shareholders, I have integrated my personal insights as seen from the perspective of a former Shell employee – a Shell geologist for almost 30 years – who was unfairly axed by Shell management. I was punished because I insisted on working within the ethical boundaries of Shell’s “Statement of General Business Principles” (SGBP) which is supposed to protect shareholder, national and other stakeholder interests.
“In my experience Shell directors” and Shell managers, “believe that truth is a precious commodity to be used as a last resort. It has to be squeezed out of them. They prefer to deceive, make empty pledges (Shell's code of ethics), intimidate,” ostracize, “hide information from their own shareholders”, employees, the government who gave them the license to operate and, and finally “retreating behind their army of lawyers” for shelter “whenever there is a prospect that management misdeeds will be exposed.”
I was not the only member of staff at Shell who was fired for up-holding Shell’s SGBP. That document had caused untold damage and suffering to many Shell employees. I strongly suggest that Shell suspends the SGBP until such time as Shell management is prepared to honour the noble pledges proclaimed therein. In other words, until the written pledges of integrity and transparency are matched by the actions of Shell management. In this connection, it was reported by Al-Jazeera (“Shell Oil Lies – A tip of the iceberg as World Oil crisis looms?”) that “The Oman estimates were based on assessments made in May 2000 by a senior Shell executive who was subsequently fired. He was among several executives who were said to have known about the unrealistic estimates of reserves and to have done nothing about it.”
It stated in the same article, “Geologists and analysts have been saying for some time that estimates of global oil reserves may be dangerously exaggerated.”
Correspondence between Sir Mark Moody Stuart and Mr. Richard Wiseman below shows the actual mentality of Shell Management in high places. This behavior was inevitably imitated by executives in operating companies who followed and adopted the example of a ruthless and deceitful corporate culture practiced by those at the very top of the Royal Dutch Shell Group. Shell’s ethical code was and is not worth listening to unless top management becomes a role model for integrity and transparency. Under current circumstances what is the point of having an annual ritual performed for the CEO at operating companies, where it is a mandatory requirement for staff to sign off their ethical health forms (ie Conflict of Interest) irrespective of compliance with Shell’s Statement of General Business Principles”.
For examples read the Shell section of the website.
“No amount of spin and hype can hide the fact that Shell’s claimed core principle of truth and honesty in all of its dealings is unadulterated propaganda. Like Enron and WorldCom executives, Shell senior management obviously feels that it is okay to hide the truth from its shareholders and the public. This has been proven time and time again in our dealings with them – as the gagging agreements drafted by Shell lawyers at the insistence of Shell senior management prove”.
Below is a letter I last wrote on 3rd June 2004 to Shell Malaysian Management, hoping that if both sides entered into a constructive dialogue on a “without prejudice” basis, the matter could be resolved amicably despite the threats I had received on 17th May 2004 from their legal Manager Mr. Thavakumar Kandiahpillai. It is significant that legitimate questions (“Confidentiality versus Shareholder’s interests”-25th May 2004) I posed to him about Shell’s ethical practices have remained unanswered.
I am still waiting for a reply to both of my letters from you Thavakumar and/or those in authority above you!
Date: 3rd June 2004
Dear Mr. Kandiahpillai and (including Jeroen Van der Veer, Malcolm Brinded, Jon Chadwick, etc.)
It is obvious that I posed some difficult questions as I have not received any response. I was not trying to be awkward.
I simply want Shell to deal with me sympathetically as a long-term employee who was very deeply hurt by the unfortunate way my employment with Shell ended. It was terribly distressing for me after so many decades.
Frankly it would be much preferable for this matter to be resolved directly with Shell if that is at all possible, rather than continuing to be embroiled in acrimony.
On my part, I am very willing to make in good faith attempt to resolve the matter amicably if Shell is willing to do likewise. As they say, it takes two to tango.
If we could find a solution from discussions held on a “without prejudice” basis, it would save further Shell management time and avoid potentially substantial lawyers’ fees. It would also bring me some peace of mind.
I therefore believe that this is a sensible proposal which could produce a mutually beneficial result.
I am making this proposal to demonstrate that I am a reasonable person seeking a reasonable solution.
John Huong
Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong
It seems that my letters including the above were not good enough for Shell management to take steps in resolving the conflicts. I have not even received the courtesy of a response to the above proposal made in good faith. As a loyal and faithful employee of nearly 30 years standing I was unreasonably axed while protecting the shareholder, national and stakeholders interests. I am now taking steps to reveal to my extended family, the international audience, the predicaments and nightmares I have to go through in trying to abide with Shell’s SGBP. At the end of the story you will understand the pervasive nature of Shell’s corporate culture which has unfortunately escalated to appalling gigantic proportions, resulting in the repeated downgrades of Shell oil and gas volumes which have made headlines around the globe.
If a company loses the trust and respect of its shareholders, employees, and customers, as Shell Management has done on a truly spectacular basis, then there's only going to be a rather empty shell left. It will obviously be a very long time before Shell could ever again use the famous advertising slogan “you can be sure of Shell”.
It seems that Mr. Jeroen van der Veer and Mr. Malcolm Brinded could not command any effective solutions to Shell management in the Operating companies in resolving my case. I am just wondering how Jeroen and Malcolm can have the time to consider the well-being of an individual axed-employee when they have to think around the clock for ways and means in undoing and/or hiding their own personal and professional wrong-doing? If only they could institute discipline and fair-minded management at the workplace, then Shell’s reputation will be given a breathing place to recover from being torn to pieces by the immoral self-serving attitude of Shell top management who appear to place their fat cat remuneration/pension packages above all other considerations, moral and legal.
Mail on Sunday: Chairman Jeroen van der Veer in frame over Shell scandal – could lead to 20 years in jail
Patrick Tooher,
6 June 2004
SHELL chairman Jeroen van der Veer could face criminal prosecution in the US after signing accounts that massively overstated oil and gas reserves.
The revelation is another blow to Shell. Throughout the reserves fiasco, it has presented van der Veer as Mr Clean.
Van der Veer is bound to be questioned again about his role in the scandal when he meets leading shareholders this week.
Financial Mail has established that van de Veer, ex-chairman Sir Philip Watts and former finance director Judy Boynton put their names to statements required by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The Act came into force in 2002 after the WorldCom and Enron scandals.
Under it, chief executives and finance directors must certify the accuracy of financial statements and other disclosures. Miscertifying can lead to 20 years in jail and a $5 million (£2.7 million) fine.
Crucially, van der Veer, Watts and Boynton certified that the 2002 reports of Shell and sister company Royal Dutch did not contain 'any untrue statement'.
Shell stunned investors this year by admitting that its oil and gas reserves had been overestimated by a fifth. Watts, Boynton and exploration chief Walter van de Vijver were sacked, but van der Veer survived.
A report into the scandal by US law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell appeared to pin the blame on Watts, Boynton and van de Vijver, but left van der Veer in the clear.
At the request of the US authorities, Shell has not published the full report. But even the executive summary reveals van der Veer knew early in 2002 of Shell's precarious position over guidelines on reserves set out by the US stock market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In March last year, van der Veer, Watts and van de Vijver signed Shell's 2002 report and accounts for the SEC – without any adjustment for five billion barrels of overbooked oil and gas reserves.
In addition, van der Veer, Watts and Boynton separately signed the Sarbanes-Oxley statement.
Van der Veer later said he was aware that reserves were low two years before Shell admitted it, but insisted he did not know the extent of the overbooking.
A Shell spokesman said: 'We can't comment on matters under investigation in the US.'
It is again very prophetic what Mr. Donovan had written to HM Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in March 1999 and again on 21st April 2004.
More recently, I have also written numerous times to Mr. Jeroen van der Veer and Mr. Malcolm Brinded, of the Shell Group and other senior management under the umbrella of the Royal Dutch Shell Group. All of these letters were ignored. How could Shell management treat me so despicably, so shabbily, after I had worked for Shell so loyally and with such diligence for almost three decades?
Not too long ago, I provided to Shell Management insights of my extensive knowledge of what actually goes on behind the wall of secrecy and intimidation imposed on Shell employees. This was in a letter entitled – “The Truth Behind the Royal Dutch Shell Group icon”. The full story will appear in the next News posting!
Investors – “You cannot be sure of Shell” growing your funds. Potential employees – do not trust your career and aspirations to Shell until you understand the true inside story. If Shell is unwilling to undergo radical change at every level in the organization for the better, Shell’s negative and evil ingrained cultures will ultimately destroy the little which remains of its former reputation.
Just consider the recent appalling headlines as follows.
The Independent: “Lies, cover-ups, fat cats and an oil giant in crisis”
The Guardian: “Trail of emails reveals depths of deceit at the heart of Shell”
The Scotsman: “Shell admits reserve 'lies'”
Daily Telegraph: “Memos expose Shell's years of lying”
London Evening Standard: “Shell bosses lied to the City”
Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Dutch/Shell Group exec was 'sick and tired' of lying”
Financial Times: “Shell had systems in place”
The Times: “Shell Legal Director “kept in the dark””
Daily Telegraph: City comment: “The invisible man from Shell”
When I started with Shell all those years ago I was proud to be an employee of what I considered to be nothing less than the best company in the world; an internationally respected brand and an equally highly respected management. It is a matter of the deepest regret to me that the company has sunk so low with its management acquiring global notoriety for participating in a disgraceful scandal which ranks alongside the likes of Enron and WorldCom.
It is ironic: If only Shell management had abided by its own ethical code – the SGBP, the humiliating reserves scandal, the results of which will inevitably drag on for many years with the investigations and ruinous class action law suits, could never have occurred. As God is my witness, that is the truth.
I am finding it hard to come to terms with the con-artist mentality of a management which thought it could say one thing in speeches and advertising – pledging “Profits and Principles” – honesty, openness, integrity etc and actually get away and rewarded with doing the exact opposite.
My recipe for recovery: Every single member of Shell senior management who is implicated in or tainted to the least extent by the reserves debacle should do the honorable thing and resign immediately. That includes Mr van der Veer and Mr Malcolm Brinded. Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell Transport and Trading should be merged into one unified company – Shell with a single management structure. It needs to have an entirely new management team and that will certainly have to think about EXCLUDING Mr. Jon Chadwick – consisting of individuals who have NO possible connection with past misdeeds and who possess the integrity and dedication essential to the considerable task of restoring Shell’s reputation; all of these ingredients are needed for a genuinely fresh start.
Only then would I be prepared to invest in Shell or to recommend anyone else to so.
Some relevant extracts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (United Nations) (
Article 1.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Article 19.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Article 23.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
This article is published under the universally recognised basic human rights of freedom of expression and freedom of speech.
Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong
10 June 2004
[email protected] read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment. Oman Oil Company Signs Caspian Offshore PSA with Kasakhstan’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources

Thursday, December 14, 2006 )
Astana – Oman Oil Company S.A.O.C. entered into a Production Sharing Agreement through its subsidiary company Oman Pearls Company Limited (OPCL) with Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and Kazakhstan’s National Oil Company KazMunaiGaz at a signing ceremony held at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources in Astana, Kazakhstan.
The Production Sharing Agreement was signed by H.E. (Dr.) Mohammed Bin Hamed Al Rumhy, Oman’s Minister of Oil and Gas and Vice Chairman of Oman Oil Company and by H.E. Vladimir Shkolnik, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources of Kazakhstan.
On the occasion of the signing, H.E. Dr. Al Rumhy stated that “the signing of this agreement completed the activities contemplated under a multi project agreements signed between the Sultanate of Oman and the Republic of Kazakhstan. He also added that the fulfilment of the parties’ obligations under the long standing agreements between the two nations demonstrates the strong friendly relationship that has developed between the Sultanate of Oman and the Republic of Kazakhstan.”
Pursuant to signing of the Production Sharing Agreement, OPCL and KazMunaiGaz signed an agreement to transfer 55% of the interest in the Pearls Blocks to Shell E&P Offshore Ventures. Following approval of the transfer by the Republic of Kazakhstan, OPCL will hold a 20% equity interest in the project and the remaining 25% will be held by KazMunaiGaz.
The Production Sharing Agreement covers an 895sq km exploration license covering a group of exploration prospects known as the “Pearls”. The Pearls Blocks are located in the North Caspian Sea, south of the 2001 Kalamkas oil and gas discovery.
Oman Oil Company S.A.O.C. (OOC) is a commercial company 100% owned by the Government of the Sultanate of Oman. The company was created in 1992 to give the Government another vehicle for pursuing investment opportunities in the energy sector both inside and outside Oman. Through participation in energy and energy related projects, OOC plays a role in the Sultanate's efforts to diversify the Omani economy and help generates Omani and foreign private sector investment. In Oman, OOC has interest in numerous projects that are either in operation, under construction or under development. These include gas transmission, petroleum retailing, refining, petrochemicals and aluminium smelting. Outside Oman, OOC has interests in exploration and production, crude oil pipelines and petroleum product logistics. read more

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

Fortune Magazine: Massive oil profits may not last

Weak production gains and an inability to refill reserves may put big oil in a pinch in coming years.
By Nelson D. Schwartz, FORTUNE senior writer
February 3, 2006: 3:25 PM EST
LONDON (FORTUNE) – Judging by the tens of billions (and yes that's billions with a B) the big oil companies are reporting in earnings for 2005, you'd think this is as good as it gets for companies like Chevron, Exxon, Shell and BP. Their shares are up, they've got a friend in the White House (even if he has been daring to talk about alternative energy), and they literally have more cash then they know what to do with. Heck, when was the last time it was cooler to be a member of Houston's Petroleum Club than be a tech type in Austin?
Look a few lines down from the blowout profits, though, and you'll spot something that's being quietly discussed in the boardroom but not maybe not at the Petroleum Club — weak production gains and a stunning inability to replace the reserves the giants are pumping right now.
Although industry leader Exxon (Research) has long shown extraordinary discipline in finding more oil year after year, rivals like Shell and Chevron (Research) are lagging badly. Despite earning $14 billion last year, most of Chevron's production and reserve increases came from its acquisition of Unocal, not what oil insiders call 'the drill bit.'
And while Royal Dutch Shell (Research) earned more than $25 billion, its daily production fell from 3.7 million barrels a day in 2004 to 3.5 million last year. Even worse, the Anglo-Dutch giant replaced only 70 percent to 80 percent of the oil it pumped out of the ground, despite spending billions on new projects.
“This is the big story for these companies,” says veteran industry consultant and occasional gadfly Matthew Simmons. “They're so big, they're having a very hard time growing. The only thing they really know how to do well is buy back stock.” Simmons, it should be noted, is convinced the world is entering a period of tight oil supplies that will drive prices much, much higher. That's debatable — but he's on to something here.
Because if the oil giants can't find new fields, going forward they'll essentially be liquidating the source of future profits. Smaller, independent oil firms have had much more success in growing production, which leads Simmons to wonder if maybe the giants wouldn't be better off splitting themselves up. “I think one of these days, one of the Big Oil companies is going to break itself up like AT&T and the Baby Bells.”
Oil analyst Neil McMahon of Sanford Bernstein agrees the production numbers are a challenge, although he's a bit more sanguine about the future of Big Oil than Simmons. “Still, at the end of the day, it's not great,” he admits, adding that production schedules of big projects like BP's (Research) Thunderhorse in the Gulf of Mexico and Chevron's Gorgon field off Australia have also been slipping.
For investors, though, there's one major upside here: independent oil firms may end being swallowed up by the big boys. “If you can't find oil, you're going to have to buy it,” says McMahon.
Potential acquisition targets include oil sands plays like Canadian Natural Resources and Western Oil Sands, as well as skillful U.S. independents like Murphy Oil, Apache, Anadarko and Devon. Conoco's recent decision to buy gas-player Burlington drew skepticism — as did Chevron's move to purchase Unocal last year. But with prices where they are, there's no shortage of cash. And there is a lack of easy-to-find crude. Don't be surprised, therefore, if the next time Big Oil finds some new assets, they're found not in deep water or under desert sands but on Wall Street. read more

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

Oil & Gas News: Alaska offers promise for major oil companies

Alaska offers great potential for an extended period of new oil development and exploration, executives from major oil companies said at an industry conference.
BP and ConocoPhillips aim to wring more oil from existing fields in Alaska's North Slope and bordering areas, while Shell said it intended to increase exploration in the mostly untapped frontiers of the state.
BP Exploration (Alaska), which operates the Prudhoe Bay field, remains focused on developing up to 6 billion known barrels of North Slope oil, company president Steve Marshall said at the annual Meet Alaska conference.
“We're not chasing new barrels through wildcatting. But we are chasing more of the discovered barrels,” said Marshall, noting the company's success in using technology to improve production. read more

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

Houston Chronicle: Tidewater faults security in kidnappings

Bloomberg News
Tidewater, the world's biggest operator of supply ships for oil drillers, said Friday it removed a boat from a Royal Dutch Shell project in Nigeria after security guards failed to protect the vessel's crew from kidnappers last month.
New Orleans-based Tidewater pulled a supply vessel, the Liberty Service, from an assignment at Shell's EA field off the Nigeria coast because “their security precautions weren't all that good,” said Stephen Dick, a Tidewater executive vice president.
Three Tidewater employees, including a Houston-area resident, boat captain Patrick Landry, and a Shell contractor were kidnapped Jan. 11 by 30 armed militants and held for 19 days. The militants, who demanded the release of an imprisoned former Bayelsa state governor and a militia leader, were unopposed by 14 armed guards from the Nigerian military assigned to protect the vessel, Dick said.
“Shell had armed naval personnel in the field who weren't all that courageous when challenged” by the militants, Dick said. The militants shot out the wheelhouse windows and damaged radar and electrical equipment before departing with the captives, he said.
Bianca Ruakere, a spokeswoman for Shell, said she couldn't comment immediately.
Attacks by militant groups in the oil-rich Niger Delta region have grown more daring in the past two years.
Dick, who flew to the U.S. with Landry after the hostages were released Monday, Jan. 30, said the 61-year-old boat captain appears to be in good health. The kidnapped Tidewater employees, Milko Nichev of Bulgaria and Harry Ebanks of Honduras, also were in good health after their release and have returned home. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment. Shell Plans on Track in Iran

LONDON (Reuters) – 02/02/2006
Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell Plc said on Thursday its investment plans in Iran remained on track despite an international standoff over the Islamic state's nuclear ambitions that could result in UN sanctions.
Exploration and Production boss Malcolm Brinded, seen as the firm's second-most senior executive, said discussions on a planned multi-billion dollar natural gas project continued as earlier envisaged.
“It stays on track and progress (continues) towards an FID (final investment decision) which will be next year,” he told a press conference and conference call.
Shell also has other operations in Iran, apart from the natural gas project.
The Anglo-Dutch firm's position contrasts with London-based rival BP Plc. which refuses to invest in Iran for fear of irritating the U.S. government, a staunch critic of Iran. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment. Shell President Forced to Address 'Peak Oil' Theory

By Adam Porter
03 Feb 2006 at 01:01 PM EST
PARIS ( — Shell announced their record profits at two press conferences this week. The first in Hague in Holland and the second later in the same day in their London centre. The London conferences were attended by Chief Executive Jeroen van der Veer and Chief Financial Officer Peter Voser.
At the conference, Shell [NYSE:RDS-B; LSE:RDSB] revealed 2005 profits of $22.9 billion on revenues of $379 billion, which were up 30% from profits of $17.6 billion in 2004. These were the biggest profits ever made by a British company.
Also in attendance at the conference was author David Strahan. Strahan is currently writing a book on energy supply issues having moved from broadcast journalism at the BBC. Strahan was producer of the seminal BBC Money Programme on ‘peak oil’ theory back in 2000 shortly after the first British fuel protests. He also produced War for Oil for the BBC Money Programme in 2003.
“I was about to start my book’s chapter on the international oil companies,” started Strahan. “As you seldom get access to these people [like van der Veer] one on one I thought I would go to the conference.”
Strahan was interested in the way that Shell was able to announce such large revenues in the current supply situation.
“It struck me that if this is how well the majors do when the market is just ‘tight’ what would happen if there was ever a real shortage of oil,” said Strahan. “So I put this to Mr. van der Veer and asked him what would happen in a real peak of global production and how much money would Shell make?”
Strahan also asked what van der Veer thought of the idea of peak oil and whether or not Shell had looked at the situation itself.
“I asked whether Shell had done any detailed modelling on this question,” said Strahan. “Mr. van der Veer replied that his argument basically was that the world will not [arrive at a peak oil situation]. He said that peak oil is correct as applied to regional areas of production like the North Sea, Texas or the Lower 48, but does not apply to the world as a whole.”
Van der Veer’s actual reply to Strahan on Shell’s webcast was “That is a great question it is much more complex than many people think. That (peak oil) is not how we will go. Because peak oil theory itself is correct, if one takes easy oil close to the markets. If you look at West Texas the oil has gone, or even the North Sea…but if you look at oil sands you don’t know where the peak will come…if you think about coal…there are huge reserves. If you assume we can develop clean coal technologies, [then] there will not be one peak.”
“So there is no one peak. There will be many peaks [for different fields, regions and fuels] and they will be in many different time frames and how that will develop, we don’t know.
We think [for prices] that it is prudent for our company to evaluate projects in a very [many] differing pricing scenarios.”
Strahan then asked if van der Veer expected oil sands to make up the difference in any decline of conventional oil.
“What I do expect,” replied van der Veer, “is at the present price level there is a huge incentive to develop additional forms of energy, hydrocarbon energy and alternative energies, people will respond but it will take some time.”
Strahan considered van der Veer’s replies.
“His basic argument was that as the peaks happen at different times,” concluded Strahan. “So you get a plateau not a peak. But one is not just adding up a bunch of peaks, you are adding up some areas that are rising in production and some that are falling.”
“[Van der Veer] did say that ‘easy oil has peaked’ but then said ‘look at what is elsewhere like the arctic, deepwater and so on.’ But if you listen to people like PFC Energy, the Washington based consultancy, they have suggested that deepwater will peak early in the next decade. He also mentioned oil sands but the overall plan for oil sands is to make just 5 million barrels a day by 2030. I must say it was not terribly convincing,” Strahan said. read more

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


4 February 2006
UNION leaders told Shell to “clear out” of the North Sea's biggest oil field yesterday.
Hours after posting record profits of £13billion, Shell said they are looking into decommissioning the Brent Field.

But union bosses believe there is life left in the 30-year-old field and urged Shell to let other firms take over.
Graham Tran, of Amicus, said: “Returns in the field are not the same as they were.
“That's not a big profit margin in Shell's portfolio – but it could be a big profit margin for a relatively small operator.”
The Brent Field, 115 miles off Shetland, was discovered in 1971 and started producing oil in November 1976. read more

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

The Times: Letters: Oil greed and climate change

Sir, In a week in which Shell has reported the biggest profit in corporate history (report, Feb 3) we would like to draw attention to the discrepancy between oil company profits and research funding to investigate the effects of climate change.
It is widely accepted now that activities of these companies play a big part in altering our climate. As a result of public awareness of these issues, leading oil companies have included references to the environment, renewable sources of energy and even climate change itself in their corporate publicity. Not to single out Shell, BP is advertising on its website that it is committed to researching our CO2 emissions and “what BP is doing about global warming”.
Well, we do not really know what they intend to do about climate change — apart from getting the greatest financial mileage out of their present business model. At the University of Wales, we are running a unique large-scale climate change experiment investigating the impact of high CO2 concentrations on native British tree species. We are also looking into carbon sequestration potential of British forestry. Since this kind of research is financially demanding, we have approached nearly all the main oil companies based in the UK for support. The response has invariably been a point-blank refusal. This is not only our case: getting funding from oil companies to do environmental research is difficult for anyone.
Are we really meant to believe the propaganda of oil companies suggesting that they care about the environmental impact of their line of work? In a situation when the profits are counted in tens of billions and research funding requests for tens of thousands are declined, believing in the environmental commitment of oil companies is very hard indeed.
School of Agricultural and Forest Sciences
University of Wales, Bangor read more

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

The Times: Don't blame us if we fail to hook big fish, says regulator

By Patrick Hosking
Our correspondent talks to the FSA man who had the case against Shell’s former chief executive dropped.
THE man who ordered the dropping of the market abuse case against Sir Philip Watts, the former Shell chief, has rejected accusations that the City watchdog is failing in not hooking the big fish.
Tim Herrington, chairman of the Financial Services Authority’s powerful Regulatory Decisions Committee (RDC) and chairman of the RDC sub-panel that heard Sir Philip’s case, declined to comment directly on the case, but said that it was hard to pin blame on individuals in big companies.
“Getting big individuals is difficult,” he told The Times. “They fight hard, as you’d expect. When you’re operating in a corporate environment, it’s actually quite hard to pin things on an individual, as distinct from a corporate failing.
“Philosophically and legally, it’s very difficult to do. But that doesn’t mean you don’t try.”
Both the culture of large organisations and the legal system made it hard to pinpoint responsibility, Mr Herrington said. “You can’t just say that because a firm has failed, an individual must be to blame. That’s a very kneejerk reaction.” He drew a parallel between corporate disasters and the difficulty of finding individual directors guilty of manslaughter.
The regulatory world was stunned last November when the FSA announced that it was abandoning the case against Sir Philip. Earlier it had found Shell guilty of serious market abuse and had fined it £17 million for repeatedly misleading shareholders over the level of its oil and gas reserves.
The FSA appeared to be determined to pursue Sir Philip after it won a hard-fought skirmish against him in the Financial Services & Markets Tribunal in September.
It also appeared to have strong evidence in the form of e-mails between senior executives, including the notorious admission from Walter van de Vijver, the former exploration director, that he was “becoming sick and tired about lying” about reserves issues.
Mr Herrington, who was hired to head the RDC last February, denied that the decision had soured relations between the committee and the FSA’s enforcement division, which spent 18 months building up a detailed case against Sir Philip and at least one other Shell executive. He had “a full and frank exchange of views from time to time” with Margaret Cole, the division’s chief, but said that “in practice we’re very much a team”.
Mr Herrington was speaking as the RDC considers the case of Philippe Jabre, a multimillionaire GLG Partners hedge fund manager accused of insider dealing. The case is considered key after the FSA made its crackdown on market abuse by hedge funds a priority last year.
Mr Herrington, 51, who spent his career at Clifford Chance before joining the FSA, said that the RDC was working well in the wake of the Strachan shake-up — reforms put in place after the controversial Legal & General case. The RDC was now fairer to the accused and seen to be fairer, he said. It was more distanced from Enforcement and the judgment process was more transparent.
The extra cost was about £250,000 for the RDC’s new separate legal team. The extra time taken to judge cases probably averaged three weeks.
Far fewer cases were reaching the RDC, Mr Herrington said, with seven or eight out of ten settled with Enforcement. The RDC at present was considering three major cases, he said, as well as several smaller ones.
He defended the FSA against suggestions that it was failing to discipline senior executives, saying that it was no worse than regulators elsewhere. “I can’t think of any big fish in Europe who’s been caught. Even in the States, is it really that common?”
Biggest fines imposed by the FSA
Shell: Reserves mis-statements £17 million
Citigroup: “Dr Evil” bond scandal £13.9 million
CSFB: Misleading Japanese regulators £4 million
Abbey: Money-laundering rule breaches £2.32 million
Lloyds TSB: Precipice bond mis-selling £1.9 million read more

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The Independent: Private Investor: Why can't Shell reward its loyal followers, not the taxpayer?

By Sean O'Grady
Published: 04 February 2006
I wish I had more energy. Yes, I'm feeling tired, but I'm really thinking about my underweight position in oil. Sounds odd, doesn't it? I mean, I wish my holding in Shell was larger.
In case it passed you by, the company reported the largest profits in British corporate history last week: £13bn. Of course, there are many firms with bigger margins and better returns on capital – and most other measures, too. Indeed, the shares were down on the news because expectations had been higher. Exxon did better, apparently.
However, for those who have held the shares through some lean, mean times recently, it was a relief that at last we could actually see a more substantial return on our money. For Shell says that it is going to return £2.8bn to investors through share buybacks this year.
After all the scandals about missing reserves and the disruption caused by Hurricane Katrina and the general slowdown in the world economy, it's nice to see Shell doing better. Yet immediately the calls went up for Shell to be taxed on its “windfall” profits and for it to use the money to slash the price of petrol.
I can't listen to these arguments as a shareholder and not answer them. In the case of the windfall tax, there is a precedent – the tax on banks profits that was levied by the Conservative Chancellor Sir Geoffrey Howe in 1981, and the tax on the privatised utilities profits implemented by Gordon Brown in 1997.
You could argue very well, on the simple grounds of fiscal neutrality, that neither were justified. After all, if governments get into the habit of targeting very successful businesses than all hell will break loose.
If there was a justification for those measures, it was that those profits arose in whole or substantial part as side-effects of government policy.
In the case of the banks a quarter of a century ago it was because of the high interest rates the Thatcher government was using to choke off inflation; with the privatised utilities it was the poor system of regulation that had been created for the new companies.
At Shell, however, things are different. The value of its principal product is determined by many factors, quite a few out of its control. When the price is high, it does well. But when the price of oil is low Shell delivers commensurately lower returns.
It is not so long ago that the world was luxuriating in an oil price of around $10 a barrel. At those levels it was hardly worth Shell's while pumping the stuff out of the ground, let alone investing billions in new fields. Yet I don't recall listening to trade unionists or the road lobby shrieking for a special reverse-windfall subsidy for Shell so that it could continue to invest in difficult times and secure energy supplies into the future. No fuel lobbyist blocaded motorways asking to have the price of petrol raised (and most of the price is down to tax anyhow).
At least George Bush is doing the right thing and telling America to kick its addiction to Arab oil. If they manage to do that I won't really mind what happens to my Shell shares, as we might have a chance of saving the planet.
Which just leaves me to mention Google, whose unethical Chinese activities I bemoaned last week. If I had sold the shares then, in a wave of disgust, I would have saved myself a nasty 10 per cent drop this week when, like Shell, some stunningly big sounding numbers also “disappointed” the markets because of the expectations game.
All in all, I'd like a little financial distraction just now, and am thinking about buying into QinetiQ via the scheme offered by Hargreaves Lansdown. Not much time, though, and I've done no research. So I have no expectations. Oh dear. read more

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The Guardian: Letters: Perhaps Shell might use some of its record profits (pounds 13.1bn) to comply with a recent Nigerian court decision…

* Perhaps Shell might use some of its record profits (pounds 13.1bn) to comply with a recent Nigerian court decision which declared the continued massive and wanton flaring of gas from the Niger delta oilfields to be illegal. The people of the delta have for five decades suffered gross air, land and water pollution that would never be tolerated on Shell's home ground in the UK and the Netherlands.
Jonathan Wills
Bressay, Shetland
* Some see oil company profits as a case for higher taxes, while others believe this would damage business incentives and take away from our pensions funds. Perhaps a better response would be to place a statutory obligation on companies like Shell to invest a proportion of their profits in environmentally sustainable technology. Ten per cent of their profits invested in renewable energy would mean pounds 1.3bn extra in just one year.
Tim Nichols
London read more

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The Guardian: Work: Question of the week: Do employees ever see a cut of record profits?

Feb 04, 2006
The annual profits record for a UK-listed company was broken this week when Royal Dutch Shell announced it had generated profits of pounds 13.12bn in 2005. The Anglo-Dutch energy giant's results follow a year in which the cost of crude oil jumped from below $45 (pounds 25) a barrel to above $70. But do record profits mean record profit-sharing for Shell's employees?
Most will share in the success through a bonus structure that also factors in an employee's performance, says the company. “The amount paid as a group component is based on a scorecard system,” says a Shell spokeswoman. “This takes into account financial measures, operational performance and sustainable development.”
The proportion of its billions Shell will share is not clear. Neither is the prevalence of profit-sharing schemes in the UK generally – although their number increased rapidly during the 1980s and 1990s. “The general consensus then was that the big rise in profit-sharing was partly owing to the tax incentives being offered to companies,” says Professor Stephen Machin at University College London.
Last year, the John Lewis group made pre-tax profits of pounds 216m, of which pounds 106m went into its profit-sharing scheme. This meant every permanent employee, from the chief executive to warehouse staff, received an extra 14% of their annual salaries.
“The profit scheme ranges from 8% to 20%,” says Helen Megaw at John Lewis. “The amount that goes into the scheme is decided by the partnership board, which takes into account the company's performance and the need for investment and development.”
John Lewis is the largest example of worker co-ownership in Britain; all 63,000 of its permanent staff are partners in the business. And the generosity of its profit-sharing is rare.
“Profit-sharing schemes remain fairly unusual in the UK,” says Professor Robin Wensley at the Warwick Business School. “I believe that profit-sharing goes with a certain type of company that makes profits anyway, rather than a scheme having a direct effect.”
Others agree that the impact of profit-sharing on performance is difficult to discern. “It could well be that employee involvement schemes -such as quality circles, joint representations and consultation programmes – are possibly causing the better performance, rather than the profit-sharing schemes,” says Professor Keith Whitfield at the Cardiff Business School. “But if you give workers extra responsibility and involvement in decision-making, they will want to be remunerated for this.”
The TUC says companies should always share success with all their workers. “But profit-sharing schemes may become a problem when they constitute too much of an employee's pay packet,” says a spokesman. “Employees should not have to pay through their pay packets for management errors.” read more

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Financial Times: THE WEEK4: ENERGY

By Roger Blitz
Published: February 4 2006 02:00
You can be sure of record profit from Royal Dutch Shell and the latest figures from the Anglo- Dutch group were no exception.
Profit for 2005 were £12.9bn, up 30 per cent on the previous year. Still, some analysts compared the results unfavourably with those of ExxonMobil earlier in the week.
Jeroen van der Veer, Shell chief executive, has his eyes on deepwater drilling and the Arctic for new oil reserves.
Centrica shares leapt after Gazprom said it was eyeing the owner of British Gas. The UK government gave a frosty response, saying any new owners would face “robust scrutiny”. read more

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Financial Times: Analysts take record Shell profits in stride

Published: February 4 2006 02:00
Royal Dutch Shell reported the highest annual corporate profits for a UK-listed company on the back of soaring oil prices, generating profits of $23bn (£13bn), up nearly a third on last year.
However profits in the fourth quarter slowed, with the company reporting a rise of 3 per cent after hurricane damage in the Gulf of Mexico and unrest in Nigeria blighted oil production.
Shell added that there was little likelihood of a growth in production this year, and analysts were disappointed that the earnings failed to match those of rival ExxonMobil, which earlier in the week reported that it had made $36.1bn last year.
Jeroen van der Veer, Shell chief executive, said he was confident of finding new oil reserves, with the company increasingly looking in frontier areas. He also rejected suggestions that the world was running short of new energy supplies. Shell has pledged to spend $19bn a year on new developments, focusing on projects in Nigeria, China, Oman, Russia and Malaysia. read more

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The Times: Now here's a bad idea: wipe out a species of whale and help Shell too

Wild Notebook by Simon Barnes
THE BRITISH people lined the towpath and cheered for the whale, and wept for the whale when it died. Now let us celebrate that British taxes could pay for the extinction of the northwestern grey whale.
The consolation is that this will help out poor old Shell, a company that on Thursday announced annual profits of £13.12 billion.
It is possible that the idea of spending your own money on helping Shell and at the same time wiping out a species of whale seems a poor idea. I shall explain. Shell is looking for retrospective environmental and social approval for their already notorious Sakhalin II project.
This is a gas and oil extraction project that involves three offshore platforms, pipelines, an onshore processing plant, a liquid natural gas facility and an oil and gas terminal: in short, a pipeline the length of England with a huge chunk of industry at either end.
This all happens in the summer feeding areas of the critically endangered northwest grey whale, now down to 100 animals. It is reckoned that if normal mortality rates are accelerated to the extent of losing one additional female a year for the next three years, the species will not recover. A bit delicate, then. Experts consulted by Shell have explained that the project is likely to wipe the whales out. Shell, it seems, has chosen to go ahead anyway.
And so they are seeking loans from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and also from the UK’s Export Credit Guarantee Department: ie, your taxes and mine. WWF are fighting a corner for the whales, and for taxpayers.
If we care about a lost whale in the Thames, then by simple logic we also care about an entire species of whales off the eastern edge of Russia. Or is our money better spent making sure Shell shareholders don’t become extinct?
I WAS standing on one of the highest eminences in Norfolk, a good metre or so above sea level, and looking out over a place about as remote as you can get in lowland England. And I stood there for a couple of hours watching it get dark, and taking in a quiet. unmistakable series of miracles.
The place was Hickling Broad, a wild and rambling place run by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. And I was there to look for birds of prey. For some reason, mostly to do with the remoteness of the place, it has become, if you like, an inner-city area for birds of prey. In winter they come to this wild and wacky spot for the night, spreading out each morning to hunt and forage over the Broads.
So if you stand there of an evening, you get to see them coming back for the night. And you will see birds of prey in astonishing numbers.
Up to 70 marsh harriers have been seen at once this year: not bad for a bird that was reduced to a single breeding pair in this country. (Note for whale watchers: conservation works. All it needs is public and political will.) As the evening marched on and the afternoon melted away, I had the rare sight of 25 harriers all in the air at once: big birds with long, wide, square-edged wings, held above their backs in a shallow vee. Most were marsh harriers, though a single hen harrier was claimed by another observer on the eminence.
And among them, a kestrel, a merlin — a tiny, super-dashing falcon — and a peregrine, while in the foreground the rough grass and sedge was crisscrossed by three barn owls, clearly in sight for a couple of hours, sometimes all in the same binocular-view. This is a special place, beautifully maintained, and a pilgrimage spot where, if the harriers outnumbered the birdwatchers, I was able to take that in stride. Conservation, as I said, works.
AND THE following day, I had a garden tick. That is to say, a bird seen for the first time from my own place: a buzzard, flying over, burly and purposeful, a common bird in the West of England, still an unusual sight in Suffolk. That made it seven species of birds of prey within 24 hours: not bad going, even if I shouldn’t have counted the hen harrier.
Birds of prey in this country were hammered by pesticides in the 1950s and 60s, and were facing disaster. Good, timely reforms and solid conservation work have brought them back to decent numbers. If we don’t let people like Shell get away with things, we can get our wildlife fighting back.
Should our taxes be spent on conservation? Or should we just give them to Shell?
Outside magazine, October 1995

The Whale Hunters

The world wants them to stop, but it's the trade of their grandfathers. With a harpoon and their wits, they ply the waters of the Caribbean in search of their 40-ton prey. And when they're gone, it all goes with them.
By Sebastian Junger
The last living harpooner wakes to the sound of wind. It has been blowing for two weeks now, whipping up a big ugly sea, ruining any chance of putting out in the boat. On this strong, steady wind, the northeast trades, European slave ships rode to the New World bringing 15 million Africans across the Atlantic. One of their descendants now creeps through his house in the predawn gloom, wishing the wind would stop.
The man's name is Athneal Ollivierre. He is six feet tall, 74 years old, as straight and strong as a dock piling. His hair rises in an ash-gray column, and a thin wedge of mustache suggests a French officer in the First World War. On his left leg, there's the scar of a rope burn that went right down to the bone. His eyes, bloodshot from age and the glare of the sun, focus on a point just above my shoulder and about 500 miles distant. In the corner of his living room rests a 20-pound throwing iron with a cinnamon-wood shaft.
Ollivierre makes his way outside to watch the coming of the day. The shutters are banging. It's the dry season; one rainfall and the hills will be so covered with poui flowers that it will look like it just snowed. Shirts hang out to dry on the bushes in front of his house, and a pair of humpback jawbones forms a gateway beyond which sprawls the rest of his world: seven square miles of volcanic island that drop steeply into a turquoise sea. This is Bequia, one of 32 islands that make up the southern Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Friendship Bay curves off to the east, and a new airport, bulldozed across the reefs, juts off to the west. More and more tourists and cruise ships have been coming to Bequia, the planes buzzing low, the gleaming boats anchoring almost nightly in the bay, but at the moment that matters very little to Ollivierre: He's barefoot in the tropical grass, squinting across the water at a small disturbance in the channel. Through binoculars it turns out to be a wooden skiff running hard across the channel for the island of Mustique. It emerges, disappears, emerges again behind a huge green swell.
“Bequia men, they brave,” he says, shaking his head. He speaks in a patois that sounds like French spoken with an Irish brogue. “They brave too much.”
Ollivierre hunts humpback whales from a 27-foot wooden sailboat called the Why Ask. As far as he's concerned, his harpooning days are over, but he's keeping at it long enough to train a younger man, 43-year-old Arnold Hazell, to do it. Otherwise the tradition, and the last remnant of the old Yankee whaling industry, will die with him. When they go out in pursuit of a whale, Ollivierre and his five-man crew row through the surf of Friendship Bay and then erect a sail that lets them slip up on whales undetected. Ollivierre stands in the bow of his boat and hurls a harpoon into the flank of an animal that's 500 times as heavy as he is. He has been knocked unconscious, dragged under, maimed, stunned, and nearly drowned. When he succeeds in taking a whale, schools on Bequia are let out, businesses are closed, and a good portion of the 4,800 islanders descends on the whaling station to watch and help butcher, clean, and salt the whale.
“It's the only thing that bring joy to Bequia people,” says Ollivierre, a widower whose only son has no interest in whaling. “Nobody don't be in their homes when I harpoon a whale. I retired a few years ago, but the island was lackin of the whale, and so I go back. Now I'm training Hazell. When I finish with whalin, I finish with the sea.”
When a whale is caught, it's towed by motorboat to a deserted cay called Petit Nevis and winched onto the beach; the winch is a rusty old hand-powered thing bolted to the bedrock. Butchering a 40-ton animal is hard, bloody work–work that has been condemned by environmentalists around the world–and the whalers offer armloads of fresh meat to anyone who will help them. Some of the meat is cooked right there on the beach (it tastes like rare roast beef) and the rest is kept for later. The huge jawbones are sold to tourists for around a thousand dollars, and the meat and blubber are divided up equally among the crew. Each man sells or gives his share away as he sees fit–“Who sell, sell; who give, give,” as Ollivierre says. The meat goes for $2 a pound in Port Elizabeth.
If there is a species that exemplifies the word whale in the popular mind, it's probably the humpbacks that Ollivierre hunts. These are the whales that breach for whale-watching boats and sing for marine biologists. Though nearly 90 percent of the humpback population has been destroyed in the last hundred years, at least half of the remaining 11,000 humpbacks spend the summer at their feeding grounds in the North Atlantic and then migrate south in December. They pass the winter mating, calving, and raising their young in the warm Caribbean waters, and when the newborns are strong enough–they grow a hundred pounds a day–the whales journey back north.
It is by permission of the International Whaling Commission, based in Cambridge, England, that Ollivierre may take two humpbacks a year. In 1986 a worldwide moratorium was imposed on all commercial whaling, but it allowed “aboriginal people to harvest whales in perpetuity, at levels appropriate to their cultural and nutritional requirements.” A handful of others whale–in Greenland, Alaska, and Siberia–but Ollivierre is the only one who still uses a sailboat and a hand-thrown harpoon. These techniques were learned aboard Yankee whaling ships a hundred years ago and brought back to Bequia without changing so much as an oarlock or clevis pin.
“You came and put a piece of your history here, and it's still here today,” says Herman Belmar, a local historian who lives around the corner from Ollivierre. Belmar is a quiet, articulate man whose passion is whaling history. He is trying to establish a whaling museum on the island. “Take the guys from Melville's Moby Dick and put them in Athneal's boat, and they'd know exactly what to do.”
One day at dawn I drive over to meet Ollivierre. His house is a small, whitewashed, wood-and-concrete affair on the side of a hill, surrounded by a hedge. Except for the whalebone arch, it's indistinguishable from any other house on the island. I let myself through a little wooden gate and walk across his front yard, past an outboard motor and a vertebra the size of a bar stool. It's mid-February, whaling season, and Ollivierre is seated on a bench looking out across the channel. I stick out my hand; he takes it without meeting my eye.
By Bequia standards, Ollivierre is a famous man. Many people have stood before him asking for his story, but still I'm a little surprised by his reaction. Not a word, not a smile–just the trancelike gaze of someone trying to make out a tiny speck on the horizon. I stand there uncomfortably for a few minutes and finally ask what turns out to be the right question: “Could I see your collection?”
If you wander around Port Elizabeth for any length of time, a taxi driver will inevitably make you the offer: “Come meet the real harpooner! Shake his hand, see his museum!” A museum it's not, but Ollivierre has filled the largest room of his house with bomb guns, scrimshaw, and paintings. The paintings are by a local artist and commemorate some of Ollivierre's wilder exploits–ATHNEAL DONE STRIKE DE WHALE, reads one. As Ollivierre discusses his life, he slowly becomes more animated and finally suggests that I walk up to the hilltop behind his house to meet the rest of the crew.
A path cuts up the hill past another low wood-and-concrete house. Split PVC pipe drains the roof and empties into a big concrete cistern, which is almost dry. (Every drop of drinking water on Bequia must be caught during the rainy season.) At the top of the hill are some wind-bent bushes and a thatch-and-bamboo sun-break that tilts southward toward the sea. Four men sit beneath it, looking south across the channel. They gnaw on potatoes, pass around binoculars, suck on grass stems, watch the sky get lighter. In the distance is a chain of cays that used to be the rim of a huge volcano, and seven miles away is the island of Mustique. When the wind permits, the whalers sail over there to look out for humpbacks.
“Hello. Athneal sent me,” I offer a little awkwardly.
The men glance around–there's been some bad press about whaling, even the threat of a tourist boycott, and everyone knows this is a delicate topic. An old man with binoculars motions me over. “We can tell whatever you want,” he says, “but we can't do anything without Dan, de cop'm.”
After Ollivierre, Dan Hazell, who bears some distant relation to Arnold Hazell, is the senior member of the crew. He's the captain, responsible for maneuvering the boat according to Ollivierre's orders. A young man named Eustace Kydd says he'll round up Dan and a couple of others and meet me at a bar in Paget Farm. Paget Farm is a settlement by the airport where the whalers live: ramshackle houses, dories pulled up on rocks, men drinking rum in the shade. Most of the men on the island make their living net-fishing. They go out before dawn and one crewman strings the nets along the ocean bottom–30 feet down with just two lungfuls of air, but it's a living. Later, the crew hauls in the catch, hoping to find snapper, kingfish, and bonita caught up in the twine.
I nod and walk back down the hill. Ollivierre is still in his yard, glassing the channel and talking to a young neighborhood man who has dropped by. They give me a glance and keep talking. The wind has dropped; the sun is thundering impossibly fast out of the equatorial sea.
Unfortunately for Ollivierre, the antiquity of his methods has not exempted him from controversy. First of all, he has been known to take mother-calf pairs, a practice banned by the IWC. In addition, Japan started giving St. Vincent and several neighboring islands tens of millions of dollars in economic aid after the imposition of an international moratorium on whaling in 1986. The aid was ostensibly to develop local fisheries, but American environmental groups charged that Japan was simply buying votes on the IWC. The suspicions were well founded: St. Vincent, Dominica, and Grenada have received substantial amounts of money from Japan, and all have voted in accordance with Japan's whaling interests over and over again.
Things came to a head last year when the IWC introduced a proposal to create an enormous whale sanctuary around Antarctica. The sanctuary would offer shelter to whales as the worldwide moratorium was phased out in keeping with growing whale populations. The Massachusetts-based International Wildlife Coalition, headed by Dan Morast, threatened to organize a tourist boycott against any country that voiced opposition to the proposal, and in the end only Japan voted against it. St. Vincent, Dominica, and Grenada abstained from the vote, and the South Seas Sanctuary was passed.
But the controversy over Bequia is more emotional than a vote. Ollivierre has become the focal point for dozens of environmental lobbyists, for whom everything he does is drenched in symbolism. First there was Ollivierre's flip-flop: In 1990 he announced his retirement, but a year later he was back at it, sitting on his hilltop, looking out for whales. It was a move that angered environmentalists who thought they'd seen the last of whaling on Bequia. The reaction was compounded by Ollivierre's efforts to sell the island of Petit Nevis, the tiny whaling station that has belonged to his family for three generations; a Japanese businessman's offer of $5 million was an outrage. Of course, Ollivierre's personal impact on the humpback population is negligible. Morast's point seems to be more conceptual: that the land sale is just another form of bribery to encourage the St. Vincent representative on the IWC to vote for whaling.
And contrary to Morast's view, Ollivierre would love to retire. His joints ache, his vision is clouded, he's an old man. Harpooning is dangerous, and apprentices are hard to come by. Several years ago he trained his nephew, Anson Ollivierre, to harpoon, but Anson branched out on his own before even bloodying his hands. Now he's building his own whaleboat, and Ollivierre fears Anson will get his whole crew killed. So this year Ollivierre tried again, taking on Arnold Hazell. Hazell's great-grandfather crewed for Ollivierre's great-grandfather, and now, a hundred years later, the relationship continues. Since there are no whales to practice on, Hazell just hangs out at Ollivierre's house, listens to the old stories, soaks up the lore.
When Hazell has killed his first whale, Ollivierre will retire. And the antiwhaling community will have a new face upon which to hang its villain's mask.
A short time after meeting with Ollivierre and his crew, I drive down to Paget Farm. On the way I pass a new fish market, paid for by the Japanese government as part of a $6 million aid package. According to the Japanese, it's a no-strings-attached token of affection for the Bequia fishermen. Past the market I turn onto a narrow cement road that grinds up a desperately steep hillside. At one end of the road is the sky; at the other end is the sea. The appointed bar is a one-story cement building halfway up the hill. I park, chock the wheels, and wander inside. It's as clean and simple inside as out: a rough wooden counter, a half-dozen chairs, no tables, a big fan. The walls are a turquoise color that fills the room with cool coral-reef light. A SAVE THE WHALES poster hangs in tatters on one wall, and a monumental woman opens soft drinks behind the counter. Five men are ranged at the far end of the room. They are dressed in T-shirts and baggy pants, and one has a knife in his hand. Captain Dan, too shy to speak, just looks out the window into the midday heat. Arnold Hazell greets me with a smile.
“In Bequia we don't have much opportunity like you in de States,” he begins. “We grew up on de sea an live from de sea. Even if we don't cotch a whale for de next ten years, it will be good just to be whalin. Just to keep de heritage up. Japanese an Norwegians–they killin whales by the thousands, an those people could afford to do something else. They have oil, they have big industry, they have a better reason to stop.” He pauses. “You know, we can put the boat out, we can talk to you, you can take snaps, but it a whole day's work for us. We need something back.”
Luckily, I've been told about this ahead of time. It's a tourist economy–the sunshine, the water, the beaches, it's all for sale–and the whalers see no reason why they should be any different. A young man in dreadlocks steps in quietly and leans against the bar. He listens with vague amusement; he's heard this all before.
“A few years ago a French crew come here,” says Eustace. “They come to make a film. They offer us thousands of dollars; they prepared to pay that. But we say no because we know they makin so much more on the film. Why should we work an they make all the money?”
After this statement, negotiations proceed slowly. Some careful wording, a few ambiguous phrases, and finally an agreement is reached: We'll meet at Friendship Bay tomorrow before dawn. “And,” says Captain Dan, his eyes never wavering from the horizon, “you'll see the Why Ask fly.”
In the distant past, most of the Caribbean Islands were inhabited by the peace-loving Arawak people. Very little is known about them, because most were killed, and the rest were driven from the islands, by the Caribs, whose name comes from the Arawak word for “cannibal.” Unfortunately for the Caribs, Columbus discovered their bloody little paradise within years of their ascendancy, and 200 years later most of them were gone as well. Bequia–dry, tiny, and poor–was one of their last hideouts, and when the French finally settled here, they found people of mixed Carib-African ancestry hiding in the hills. The Africans, as it turned out, had swum ashore from a wrecked slave ship, the Palmira, in 1675.
France ceded Bequia to Britain in 1763, and inevitably the Black Caribs, as they were called, were put to work on the local sugar and cotton plantations. Only free labor could coax a profit from such poor soil, and when the British abolished slavery in 1838, Bequia's economy fell apart. The local elite fled, and islanders reverted to farming and fishing–and eventually whaling–to survive.
The first Bequian to kill a whale was Bill Wallace, a white landowner's son who went to sea at age 15 and returned 20 years later with a New England bride and an armful of harpoons. As a child on Bequia he'd watched humpbacks spouting offshore during the winter months, and he didn't see why boats couldn't put out from the beach to kill them. Crews could keep lookout from the hilltops and then man their boats when they saw a spout. He recruited the strongest young men he could find and established the first whaling station on Friendship Bay in 1875.
There was nothing benevolent in Wallace; he was a tough old salt who was essentially out for his own gain. He'd lost his father shortly before leaving the island and had grown up in an industry that was considered brutal even by the brutal standard of the times. Whaling crews were at sea for three or four years at a stretch, under conditions that would have made prisoners of war balk. Captains had absolute authority over their men, and some were known to demonstrate it by occasionally whipping one to death. The crews themselves were no blessing, often largely composed of criminals, drunks, and fresh-faced kids just off the farm. It's easy to guess whose habits, after four years at sea, rubbed off on whom.
The only thing that kept such an enterprise together was the unspeakable danger that these men faced and the financial rewards of making it through alive. The largest whales in the world–blue whales–weigh 190 tons and measure up to 100 feet long. They have hearts as big as oil drums; the males have penises nine feet long. When scared, the first thing they do is thrash the water with their flukes. Enraged whales have been known to rush headlong at three-masted ships and sink them; the chase boats that put out after whales were light, fast, and no more than 30 feet long.
Harpooned whales often bolted at such speed that the rope would catch fire as it ran out through the chocks. A coil in the line could yank a man's arm off or pull him overboard. Sometimes the whale would sound and then come up through the bottom of the boat at full speed. A slack line was always a bad sign; the men could do little but peer anxiously into the depths and try to see from what angle their death would come. Inexperienced whalers were known to jump right out of the boat at the first sight of a whale. Others, intoxicated by terror, whaled until they grew old or were killed.
Four in the morning, the air soft as silk. I'm speeding along the dark roads in a rented jeep, slowing down just enough to survive the speed bumps. The northern part of Bequia is almost completely uninhabited, steep, scrub-choked valleys running up to cliffs of black volcanic rock. Shark Bay, Park Bay, Brute Point, Bullet. Between the headlands are white-sand beaches backed by cow pastures and coconut groves. Land crabs rustle through the dead vegetation, and enormous spiders spindle up tree trunks. The road passes a smoldering garbage dump, climbs the island's central ridge, and then curves into Port Elizabeth. The only signs of life at this hour are a few dockworkers loading a rusted inter-island cargo ship under floodlights. The road claws up a hill and then crests the ridge above Lowerbay–Lowby, as it's called–and starts down toward Friendship.
A dry wind is blowing through the darkness, and the surf against Semples Cay and St. Hilaire Point can be heard a mile away. I pull off the road near Ollivierre's house and feel my way down a steep set of cement stairs to the water's edge. The surf smashes white against the outer reefs; everything else is the blue-black of the tropics just before dawn. The whalers arrive ten minutes later, as promised, moving single-file down the beach. They stow their gear without a word and put their shoulders to the gunwales of the Why Ask; she rolls heavily over four cinnamon-wood logs and slips into the sea. The wind has abated enough to sail to the preferred lookout on Mustique; otherwise we'd have to make do with the hill above Ollivierre's.
Within minutes they're under way: Captain Dan at the tiller, Ollivierre up front, and Biddy Adams, Eustace, Arnold Hazell, and Kingsley Stowe amidships. They pull at the 18-foot oars, plunging into the surf. Once clear of the reef they step the mast, cinch the shrouds, becket the sprit and boom. They scramble to work within the awkward confines of the boat as Ollivierre barks orders from the bow.
The Why Ask is heartbreakingly graceful under sail, as much a creature of the sea as the animals she's designed to kill. She was built on the beach with the horizon as a level and Ollivierre's memory as a plan. Boatwrights have used such phrases as “lightly borne” and “sweet-sheared and buoyant” to describe whaleboats of the last century, and they apply equally to the Why Ask.
The boat quickly makes the crossing to Mustique, where the crew spends half the day on a hilltop overlooking the channel. With an older whaler named Harold Corea stationed above Ollivierre's house with a walkie-talkie, they have doubled the sweep of ocean they can observe. In addition they often get tips from fishermen, pilots, or people who just happen to look out their window at the right moment. These people are always rewarded with whale meat if the chase is successful.
In the early days, between 1880 and 1920, there were nine shore-whaling stations throughout the Grenadines, including six on Bequia, and together they surveyed hundreds of square miles of ocean. They'd catch perhaps 15 whales in a good year, a tremendous boon to the local economy. In 1920, 20 percent of the adult male population of Bequia was employed in the whaling industry.
Five years later all that changed; a Norwegian factory ship set up operation off Grenada and annihilated the humpback population within a year and a half. Almost no whales were caught by islanders between 1925 and 1948, and none at all were caught for eight years after that. The whaling stations folded one by one, and by the 1950s only the Ollivierre family was left. Today the humpback population has recovered slightly–the IWC now considers the species “vulnerable” rather than “endangered”–but sightings off Bequia are still rare. Last year the crew put out after a whale only once; so far this season they have yet to see a spout.
The boat returns from Mustique in the afternoon with nothing to report. The crew shrugs it off: Waiting is as much a part of whaling as throwing the harpoon.
On those lucky occasions when Ollivierre spots a whale from Mustique, he fixes its position in his mind, sails to the spot, and waits. If there's no wind, the crew is at the oars, pulling hard against oarlocks that have been lined with fabric to keep them quiet. Humpbacks generally dive for ten or 15 minutes and then come up for air; each time they do, Ollivierre works the boat in closer. The harpoon, protected by a wooden sheath, rests in a scooped-out section of the foredeck called the clumsy cleat; when the harpoon is removed, it fits the curve of Ollivierre's thigh perfectly.
The harpoon is heavy and brutally simple. A thick cinnamon-wood shaft has been dressed with an ax and pounded into the socket of a throwing iron. The head itself is made of brass and has been ground down to the edge of a skinning knife; it is mounted on a pivot and secured by a thin wooden shear pin driven through a hole. Upon impaling the whale, the pin breaks, allowing the head to toggle open at 90 degrees, catching deep in the flesh of the whale. It's a design that hasn't changed in 150 years. The harpoon is attached to a nine-fathom nylon tether, which in turn is tied–“bent,” as Ollivierre says–to the manila mainline, which is 150 fathoms long. The line passes through a notch in the bow, runs the length of the boat, takes two wraps around the loggerhead, and is coiled carefully into a wooden tub. The loggerhead is a hefty wooden block that provides enough friction to keep the whale from running out the entire tub of rope. When a whale is pulling the line, Eustace scoops seawater over the side and fills the tub–otherwise the friction will set the loggerhead on fire. Meanwhile, Ollivierre takes his position in the bow, delivering orders to Captain Dan in a low, harsh voice. Above all they must stay clear of the tail: It's powerful enough to launch a humpback clear out of the water and could obliterate the boat in a second. Ollivierre's leg is braced against the clumsy cleat, and the other men are wide-eyed at the gunwales, the rank smell of whale-vapor in their faces. The harpoon has been rid of its sheath, and Ollivierre holds it aloft as if his body has been drawn like a bow, right hand cupping the butt end, left hand supporting it like some kind of offering. You don't throw a harpoon; you drive it, unloading it downward with all your weight and strength the moment before your boat beaches itself–“wood to blackskin”–atop the whale.
“De whale make no sound at all when you hit it. It just lash de tail and it gone,” says Ollivierre. “Dan let go of everything an put his two hands on de rope. De whale have to take de rope from him; he have to hold it down.”
A struck whale gives a few good thrashes with its tail and then tries to flee. It is a moment of consummate chaos: the line screaming out through the bow chock, the crew trying to lower the mast, the helmsman bending the line around the smoking loggerhead. Some men freeze, and others achieve ultimate clarity. “After we harpoon it, that frightness, that cowardness go from me,” says Harold Corea, who at 63 is one of the oldest members of the crew. “It all go away; I become brave, I get brave.”
Brave or not, things can go very wrong. Around 1970–Ollivierre doesn't remember exactly when–a whale smacked the boat with a fluke, staving in the side and knocking Ollivierre out cold. When he came to, he realized that the rope had grabbed him and turned his leg into a loggerhead. It sawed down to bone in an instant, cauterizing the arteries as it went, and nearly ripped his hand in half. Ollivierre refused to cut the rope because he didn't want the whale to get away, but finally the barnacle-encrusted fluke severed it for him. The boat returned to shore, and Ollivierre walked up the beach unassisted, his tibia showing and his foot as heavy as cement. Two men on the beach fainted at the sight.
There is no such thing as an uneventful whale hunt; by definition it's either a disaster or almost one. As soon as the harpoon is fast in the whale, the crew drops the mast and Dan tightens up on the loggerhead to force the whale to tow the boat through the water, foredeck awash, men crammed into the stern, a 20-knot wake spreading out behind. Too much speed and the boat will go under; too much slack and the whale will run out the line. (There is one account of a blue whale that towed a 90-foot twin-screw chaser boat, its engines going full-bore astern, for 50 miles before tiring.) Every time the whale lets up, the crewmen put their hands on the line and start hauling it back in. The idea is to get close enough for Ollivierre to use either a hand lance or a 45-pound bomb gun, whose design dates back to the 1870s. It fires a shotgun shell screwed to a six-inch brass tube filled with powder that's ignited by a ten-second fuse. Ollivierre packs his own explosives and uses them with tremendous discretion.
The alternative to the gun is a light lance with a rounded head that doesn't catch inside the whale; standing in the bow, Ollivierre thrusts again and again until he finds the heart. “De whole thing is dangerous, but de going in and de killing of it is de most dangerous,” he says. He's been known to leap onto the back of the whale and sit with his legs wrapped around the harpoon, stabbing. Sometimes the whale sounds, and Ollivierre goes down with it; if it goes too deep, he lets go and the crew pulls him back to the boat. When his lance has found the heart, dark arterial blood spouts out the blowhole. The huge animal stops thrashing, and its long white flippers splay outward. Two men go over the side with a rope and harpoon the head to tie up the mouth; otherwise water will fill the innards and the whale will sink.
As dangerous as it is, only one Bequian has ever lost his life in a whaleboat: a harpooner named Dixon Durham, who was beheaded by a whale's flukes in 1885. So cleanly was he slapped from the boat that no one else on board was even touched. The closest Ollivierre has come to being Bequia's second statistic was in 1992, when the line caught on a midship thwart and pulled his boat under. He and his crew were miles from Bequia, and no one was following them; Ollivierre knew that, without the boat, they would all drown. He grabbed the bow and was carried down into the quiet green depths. Equipment was rising up all around him: oars, ropes, wooden tubs. He hung on to the bow and clawed desperately for the knife at his belt. By some miracle the rope broke, and the whole mess–boat, harpoons, and harpooner–floated back up into the world.
Ollivierre found his VHF radio floating among the wreckage and called for help. Several days later, some fishermen in Guyana heard a terrible slapping on the mudflats outside their village and went to investigate. They found Ollivierre's whale stranded on the beach, beating the world with her flippers as she died.
The next day, Ollivierre, Hazell, and Corea are back up at the lookout, keeping an eye on the sea. Corea, who was partially crippled by an ocean wave at age 19, is one of the last of the old whalers. Hazell is the future of Bequia whaling, if there is such a thing. They sit on the hilltop all morning without seeing a sign. No one knows where the whales are. A late migration? A different route? Are there just no more whales?
After a couple of hours Ollivierre is ready to call it quits for the day. If anyone sees a spout, they can just run over to his house and tell him. More than anything he just seems weary–he's whaled for 37 years and fished up until a few years ago. Enough is enough. He says good-bye and walks slowly down the hill. Corea watches him go and scours the channel one more time.
Hazell squats on a rock in the shade with half his life still ahead of him. He is neither old nor young, a man caught between worlds, between generations. Down the hill is a scarred old man who's trying to teach him everything he knows; across the ocean is a council of nations playing tug-of-war with a 27-foot sailboat. Hazell would try to reconcile the two, if it were possible, but it's not. And so he's left with one simple task: to visualize what it will be like to face his first whale.
A long winter swell will be running. The sunlight will catch the spray like diamonds. He'll be in the bow with his thigh against the foredeck and the harpoon held high. The past and the future will fall away, until there are no politics, no boycotts, no journalists. There will be just one man with an ancient weapon and his heart in his throat.
Sebastian Junger's book The Storm will be published next fall by W. W. Norton. read more

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