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An open wound for Shell

SundayTimes19thJuly2009Some Shell employees complained on their website that a “Swiss Mafia” is running the group.

Meanwhile, staff flocked to to attack the groups management.

Influential? you bet. The Donovans and their blog are regularly quoted in the mainstream media? no doubt that the father-and-son team is an ongoing headache for Shell.

By John Donovan (article updated end of 2013)

We have published below a selection of links to newspaper, magazine and book extracts featuring comments/reports relating to this website.

On 2 August 2006, Fortune magazine published a feature recommending the website as a source of information about Royal Dutch Shell.

In February 2007 Prospect magazine stated in an article : “The Donovan website has become an open wound for Shell”. The article explained how the website “can claim to have cost Shell billions of dollars.”

On 11 June 2007, Ed Crooks of the Financial Times described it as an anti-Shell website run by a father and son partnership that has been a long-running thorn in the company’s side.

On Friday 22 June 2007, The Moscow Times published a front page story revealing that: “a motivational e-mail originally leaked to an anti-Shell web site,, was the subject of a front-page story in the Financial Times.”

In July 2007, the One World Trust, an independent research organisation associated with the UK Houses of Parliament and the United Nations, said in an “Accountability in Action” newsletter: “The Royal Dutch Shell plc website shows, a gripe site can have a profound impact on global organisations”. The newsletter went on to say: The site has not only cost Shell billions of dollars in Russia – even Shell insiders unhappy with the company use it.”

On 1 Sept 2007, The Daily Mail published an article headlined “Shell on backfoot as gripe site alleges safety concerns.” It reported that Shell had been “rattled and put on the “back foot” by a campaign involving the website.

On 4 Sept 2007, Reuters published an article headlined: “Shell loses exec on troubled Kazakh project-source.” The article described as “an unofficial company Web site” and said it “acts as a conduit for whistleblowers at the company.”

On 9 September 2007, The Sunday Telegraph published an article under the headline: Online revolutionaries.” It included a section about the website and its owners, Alfred Donovan, now in his 90s, and his son John. It said: “Their site became a hub for activists and disgruntled former employees. It has been used to mobilise support for environmental campaigns by the likes of WWF, the environmental lobbying group, against drilling in the Arctic and Russia, for groups worried about Shell’s social impact in Ireland and Nigeria, and by the company’s former group auditor Bill Campbell to raise issues about employee safety.”

On 12 September 2007, an article was published by Prospect Magazine describing the website as “essential reading for anyone who covers Shell and the energy sector more broadly.”

On 22 September 2007, The Times newspaper reportedSince the 1990s, Royal Dutch Shell has been at war with a family who registered a website,”

On 12 November 2007, the Japanese business magazine Nikkei BP published an article about the website stating: “The fate of Sakhalin 2 was changed by two British men”, described as “a 90-year-old man and his son?”

On 21 December 2007, Reuters published a news story with the headline: “Shell to cut thousands of IT jobs.” The article said “One employee told the Shell protest website that 3,200 jobs could be lost?” Many news sources subsequently picked up the IT outsourcing story including the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Mail, The Independent, The Guardian, and the Daily Telegraph.

On 12 Jan 2008, an ITPro article reported that news of Shell’s outsourcing plans “came to light via an internal company email forwarded to an unofficial site dedicated to providing news and insider information about Shell.”

On 25 January 2008, Carl Mortished, World Business Editor of The Times newspaper wrote an article headlined: “Shell chief fears oil shortage in seven years” in which he described the site as “an independent website that monitors the company.” The story was a genuine scoop being the first acknowledgement by a major oil company CEO of an approaching “Peak Oil” crisis.

On 18 March 2008, The Wall Street Journal published an article headlined “Shell Addresses Output Issue.” The report indicated Shell had attempted to dampen concerns over its petroleum reserves. Referring to another Shell internal email leaked to John Donovan, the article said: “A copy was given to, a Web site regularly used by Shell whistleblowers.”

On 19 November 2007, Dow Jones Newswires published an article under the headline: US Court Paves For Shell Reserves Settlement To Proceed”. It said: “The ruling was first obtained by Shell critics? Website, which has posted 2,000 pages of extracts from the case.” A law book published in June 2008 contained a related fact, namely that: “A non-US shareholder, Mr Peter M Wood, was recruited into that action through an appeal on the website –

In February 2009, a Californian newspaper, the Santa Barbara News Press, described asthe world’s most effective adversarial Web site.”

In February 2009,Reuters reported in articles about leaked Shell internal emails that some employees posted comments on Shell protest website” and “A copy of the email is available on Shell protest site to which Shell employees often post comments.”

In May 2009, the Financial Times reported in a front page lead story:, an independent website used by Shell staff, said yesterday that more than 30 per cent of senior managers were expected to go.”

A related Daily Mail article said: “Voser is expected to use the summit to announce the culling of almost a third of Shell’s senior managers, according to a report on company gossip site yesterday. The unauthorised site, which has regularly obtained leaks from Shell insiders, said Voser will also announce the merger of Shell’s Gas & Power and Exploration & Production divisions at the meeting.”

A related article in the London Evening Standard said: Meanwhile, staff flocked to to attack the group’s management.”

A Scottish newspaper article (The Herald) also published in May 2009 said: Some Shell employees complained on their website that a “Swiss Mafia” is running the group.

On 30 May 2009, Reuters reported: The website was the first to reveal news of the planned restructuring.

In June 2009, The Wall Street Journal reported: An internal e-mail from Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN)leaked to a blog critical of the company has revealed the appointments of 62 senior executives to new roles within the restructured company. The e-mail dated June 16, sent by incoming Chief Executive Peter Voser, was published Saturday on the blog A Shell spokesman said the company does not comment on purported leaks.

In July 2009, The Wall Street Journal reported a deepening of the restructuring and said that the website had obtained a list of over 300 vice presidents involved in the changes.

Also in July 2009, The Sunday Times published an article: Two men and a website mount vendetta against an oil giant

Extract: A few weeks ago, for example, it published a plan by new chief executive Peter Voser to slash thousands of jobs before the company was ready to make an announcement. In 2005, when the Kremlin was building a case against Shell over the Sakhalin gas project, the Donovans provided confidential documents regarding alleged environmental infractions directly to Oleg Mitvol, the minister who led the case. Shell was ultimately forced to sell a stake to the Russians, leading to billions in lost revenue. Mitvol publicly acknowledged the help provided by the Donovans in building his case.

In October 2009, The Guardian newspaper published an article “92-year-olds website leaves oil giant Shell-shocked.”

Extract: The site is so successful that Kremlin officials and US investigators have used it. Journalists, knowing that the site regularly receives juicy leaks from Shell employees, search it for stories.

In December 2009, Reuters reported: Shell critic says oil major targeting his website.”

In February 2010, Dow Jones and many other news publishers reported that “data containing the contact details of tens of thousands of employees, which the company said could compromise their personal safety, has been leaked to a blogger critical of the company, according to emails seen by Dow Jones Newswires. The data, which includes mobile numbers and home postcodes of workers in dangerous locations like Port Harcourt, Nigeria, was leaked by a number of Shell staff to John Donovan, a blogger who is critical of the company and is a frequent recipient of leaks from within Shell.”

In October 2010 a book about the Corrib Gas controversy was published.

Extract: Four years later, in November 2007, the website run by Alfred and John Donovan – long-time critics of the multinational – published details of minutes of a meeting of Shell group managing directors on 22 and 23 July 2002. Planning refusal for the Ballinaboy gas terminal in north Mayo was discussed, according to the website, which quoted from the minutes: “The committee queried whether the group had sufficiently well placed contacts with the Irish government and regulators.”

In March 2011, a book about crisis management was published containing a section referring to our activities.

Extract: Influential – you bet. The Donovans and their blog are regularly quoted in the mainstream media – no doubt that the father-and-son team is an ongoing headache for Shell.”

In April 2011, The Irish Times reported that The Gardai were investigating alleged death threats against Corrib gas project insiders who hah leaked information to John Donovan.

In March 2012, a book was published giving advise on how to set up an “Interactive Hub of Dissent”.

EXTRACT: “the most successful gripe site of all time, which targets Shell Oil, actually operates under the domain name, Shell’s legal trading name.”

On March 2012, the German broadsheet daily newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, published a whole-page article about under the headline:  “The Company Shell’s Enemy No.1″

Also on 20 March 2012, the French website published an article under the title “The man who shook Shell

On 21 April 2012 ARD TV Europa Magazine broadcast a documentary feature across Europe:” Great Britain: A lone fighter against Shell.” (English translation)

Also in April 2012 a German magazine ECOreporter published an article: “April Fool: Bad Publicity plus British Humour puts Shell on the defensive”

On 2 May 2012 European Journal TV news magazine broadcast a documentary segment: “Britain: Shell’s Enemy No. 1”

In August 2013 The Observer published an article “Strange tale of Shell’s pipeline battle, the Garda and £30,000 of booze”


Much correspondence between Shell and OSSL is posted on a website which then came to play a key role:, run by John Donovan and until recently his father, Alfred, who died last month. The site, a thorn in Shell’s side, is a watchdog on the company and repository for material leaked by whistleblowers and discontents, with more than 30 million monthly hits.

The Donovans had secured places for Kane and Rooney at Shell’s AGM last month, to raise their grievances. Cornered, the company’s CEO, Peter Voser, suddenly ordered a further inquiry, a move echoed by the Garda.

References to the same story were contained in The Irish Times (published 13 Aug 2013) which referred to the Donovan website as: “the whistleblowers website” and in The Mayo News (also published 13 Aug 2013) which referred to “well-known Shell watchdog, John Donovan

With more reference in an article published in Ireland towards the end of 2013.

Bogs and Booze in Belmullet and Bellanaboy: Village Magazine published in Ireland: Oct-Nov 2013. Issue No 25. Article by Risteard O Domhnaill


In the first email published on the anti-Shell whistleblower website,, OSSL alleges that a Shell contacts manager for Corrib “used OSSL to make payments of cash and gifts to various parties in Erris and beyond…”

Just a month later, OSSL decided to take its campaign public and posted its allegations on the anti-Shell website,

Six months later John Donovan, who runs…

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

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