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Former Shell senior manager Hans Bouman sets the record straight

FROM HANS BOUMAN

Hello John

I saw on your site a posting from the Morningstar in which I was quoted followed by another one posted by you where you ‘accuse’ me of having mellowed. Nothing of the kind!!

I have indeed been contacted by the journalist and agreed on some quotes. But I am also a great believer in the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. My quotes came out a bit distorted, presumably done by the corporation for which the journalist works. I understand that even journalists have bosses. But I will not stand my quote connected to a factual error!

So, here verbatim my personal view which I sent to the journalist as a corrected version of his proposal (I never saw the whole article):

Hans Bouman, a retired Dutch Shell manager who started his EP career just like Brinded in the mid 70s in Brunei, says Brinded got his breakthrough in the 80s when he was the leader of the very successful ‘SLIM’ spearhead. This was a whole new approach to use subsea technology on standard platforms, thereby greatly reducing the maintenance. The result was much lower manning levels, great reductions in weight and an enhanced safety. This concept was widely applied throughout the industry after this spearhead project.
 
“He sometimes knows project details better than the engineer in charge,” Bouman says and “following a review of company’s projects plans some years ago, it was decided he would personally oversee 100 out of the 170 biggest ones.”

But “he is obsessed with processes and micro-management.”

He often has problems dealing with different points of view and therefore surrounds himself with yes-men. Even being perceived as not agreeing with him can have severe consequences on one’s career.

And I added this text :
……..you can quote me (or many others if you can find them) that Brinded always has had a tendency of aiming his Business Plans way too high and therefore missed the targets many years in a row when he was in Shell Expro. Now that he is in charge of EP he appears not to have changed in that respect..

I will always maintain the storyline (which is also the truth) that I often have been asked by journalists to check something or to give my opinion. I always try to help people from reputable institutions and never have passed business information to anybody.

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1 Comment on “Former Shell senior manager Hans Bouman sets the record straight”

  1. #1 Paddy Briggs
    on Jan 28th, 2008 at 13:33

    Hans

    You and I were both quoted and in my case I don’t really have a problem with what Benoit said. The substantive point I was trying to make (which I think came through) was to express the hope (forlorn I suspect) that Shell is imaginative in its appointment of a successor to Jeroen. I think that perhaps they did need this sincere, but dull, Dutchman to restore some modicum of integrity after the Watts disaster. In that respect, however, I think that Jeroen has been a disappointment. My experience of him is of a decent man, albeit a creatively limited one. Quite why he surrounded himself with the apparatchiks he chose I’m not sure. They are not sycophants – but they aren’t very memorable either. The least popular of them all is Rob Routs about whom I have not heard one complimentary word over the past few years. No wonder there is no feel for marketing at the top in his malevolent hands – not that there was ever much!

    There is a crunch point ahead for Shell and the decision on Jeroen’s successor is key to this. I do not believe that Shell can continue with the pretence that there is added value from being a vertically integrated energy company (or that vertical integration matters one jot in the modern world of oil and gas). The downstream is very distant from, and different to, the core upstream business and, for that matter, culpably badly managed by Shell at present. But the brand is strong and the marketing assets attractive. Of course it should be hived off – and there are plenty of venture capitalists around who would love the chance to make the Shell brand work.

    The next CEO of Shell should have the skill and the experience to split the company into its component parts and divest itself of the downstream completely. That sounds like an outsider to me – not someone who grew up with the misconception that vertical integration adds value – that is a concept which is 30 years (or more) out of date.

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