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Shell’s hilarious attempt to beef up email security

By John Donovan

7 October 2008

Shell employees will need to be even more on their guard when communicating by email or using instant messaging systems. Shell Global Security managed by Ian Forbes McCredie OBE, a former senior officer of the British Secret Service, will now have access to an archive of all such communications.

The new security monitoring systems are thought to be an attempt to stem the flow of leaked emails to what Reuters has described as the “unofficial” Shell website,

The series of leaked Shell internal emails to our website revealing construction flaws in the Sakhalin-2 project cost Shell many billions of dollars after the Russian government used the evidence as a pretext to take back ownership.    The move cost Shell £11 billion UK pounds according to an article by The Sunday Times, which Shell managed to kill just before publication.

We have received countless leaked Shell internal emails over the years. On 21 December 2007, Reuters published a news story with the headline: “Shell to cut thousands of IT jobs”. It went on to say that an internal Shell email had been supplied to the “Shell protest website”. Most UK and International newspapers, including the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal picked up the Shell IT outsourcing story.

We have even received and published leaked emails from Shell CEO Jeroen van der veer within hours of them being sent.  In January of this year we passed to The Times newspaper a confidential Shell internal email authored by Jeroen. It resulted in one of the most important energy related scoops ever.  The email contained an astonishing forecast in relation to “peak oil”, saying that demand for oil and gas would outstrip supply within 7 years.  The leak and subsequent widespread publication pre-empted Shell’s own plans for making an announcement.

Our reputation as a source of inside information about Shell is such that we are approached for information and comment by leading oil and gas journalists from many news agencies and major newspapers including The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.

Shell’s plans to tighten and monitor email security was contained in a recent Shell internal communication from Shell Nederland that records a discussion held on 23 September 2008.  The enhanced measures are designed to assist in “internal investigations” and in relation to litigation.

If the purpose is to crack down on the prolific leakage of Shell internal communications, it is ironic that the Shell document setting out the plans has itself been leaked to our website. That said, we need some amusing news in such unusual economic times. 

John Donovan is the co-owner of the website

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