CHAPTER 16: Our activities caught the attention of the news media

The Sunday Telegraph published an article by Juliette Garside under the headline “Online revolutionaries“ containing a reference to the Donovans and their website.

The long-lasting hostility between Shell and the Donovan family has not escaped the attention of the news media and other interested parties, such as The One World Trust, an independent research organisation associated with the UK Houses of Parliament and the United Nations.

Some memorable articles have been published regarding our activities and our website.

City Diary column by Martin Waller published on page 60 of The Times on Saturday 22 September 2007.

Since the 1990s, Royal Dutch Shell has been at war with a family who registered a website, royaldutchshellplc.com. The Donovan family, led by 90-year-old Burma veteran Alfred, perhaps quixotically want Shell to change its management. Shell has failed to shut down the site, which has attracted job applications and, allegedly, even a terrorist threat, all of which are dutifully passed on to the company.

Financial Times article by Ed Crooks published by The Financial Times on 11 June 2007 under the headline: “Energy Filter: Stirring words on Sakhalin“ described royaldutchshellplc.com as “an anti-Shell website run by a father and son partnership that has been a long-running thorn in the company’s side.”

Extracts from a One World Trust newsletter published in July 2007.   (The One World Trust is an independent research organisation associated with the UK Houses of Parliament and the United Nations.)

Another example is the “gripe site” of www.royaldutchshellplc.com. The site has played a watchdog function on the activities of Shell and has acted as a central point for the gathering of complaints.

The website Royaldutchshellplc.com is a gripe site established by John Donovan and his father, Alfred, to stream information to the public about the Shell Group, a collection of oil, gas, and petrochemical companies. John Donovan’s use of the website to blow the whistle on Shell’s environmental abuses in the Sakhalin project exhibits the power an individual website can have in holding a global organisation to account. As The Royal Dutch Shell plc website shows, a gripe site can have a profound impact on global organisations.

Donovan “wanted the site to become a magnet for people who had a problem with the company.” The site has not only cost Shell billions of dollars in Russia, but Prospect Magazine reports that the Ogoni tribe of Nigeria also use the website to spread information about Shell’s activities in the Niger Delta, and that even Shell insiders unhappy with the company use it.

An article by Sam Fleming published on page 100 – City&Finance section, of The Daily Mail on 1 September 2007 under the headline: “Shell on back foot as ‘gripe site’ alleges safety concerns“.

A related letter sent was to UK MP’s by a retired Shell HSE Group Auditor Mr. Bill Campbell. See EIN PRESSWIRE article: OFFSHORE WORKERS DIED AS A RESULT OF A “TOUCH F*** ALL” SAFETY REGIME AT ROYAL DUTCH SHELL

A Reuters article by Tom Bergin published on 4 September 2007 described royaldutchshellplc.com as ”an unofficial company Web site” and said it “acts as a conduit for whistleblowers at the company… See “Shell loses exec on troubled Kazakh project-source“.

Prospect Magazine published an article on its website on 12 September 2007 under the headline: “Shell’s Colchester Headache“ described the website as “essential reading for anyone who covers Shell and the energy sector more broadly.”

Nikkei BP (the top circulation Japanese business magazine) published an article by Ryo Kuroki on 13 November 2007 under the headline: “Gripe sites are becoming more powerful

Extract

The fate of Sakhalin 2 was changed by two British men

There is a case where gripe site affected Japanese companies business. Sakhalin 2, which is an oil and gas development project in the Sakhalin Island by Royal Dutch Shell, Japan’s Mitsui and Mitsubishi, had to surrender majority interest to Gazprom due to pressure from the Russian government regarding the violation of environmental regulations (formal transfer of shares took place April this year). However, it is not well known in Japan that actions of a 90-year-old man and his son who live in a countryside in UK contributed to the above movement.

A Wall Street Journal an article by Guy Chazan was published on 18 March 2008 under the headline: “Shell Addresses Output Issue“. It was about a leaked Shell internal email.

Extract

Shell’s lacklustre performance compared to its competitors came up in a memo sent by Mr. Jeroen van der Veer to staff this month. A copy was given to royaldutchshellplc.com, a Web site regularly used by Shell whistleblowers.

The Sunday Telegraph published an article by Juliette Garside on 9 September 2007 under the headline: “Online revolutionaries“.

Extract

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.

In a Reuters article by Tom Bergin published on 2 December 2009 under the headline: “Shell critic says oil major targeting his website” I was described as A prominent Internet critic of Shell…

With regards to being a critic of Shell, I happen to share this distinction with a great man, Winston Churchill, the legendary WW2 leader of Great Britain.

Royal Dutch Shell was built on creating and maintaining price-fixing cartels. 

See article: “When Winston Churchill accused Shell of Secret oil price rigging.

The final link in this chapter is to media information and books (almost 40) published over the last decade containing references to our website or our activities. Includes a TV documentary feature, newspaper and magazine articles, radio interviews, newsletters etc. All in date order.

Coincidentally, at the time of completing this book, Shell received the dubious distinction of being named as the most hated brand in the world. See news reports in the screenshot gallery.

VW challenges Shell as world’s ‘most hated’ brand after emissions scandal

The world’s most hated company: can NGOs help turn Shell’s reputation around?

Shell remains world’s most hated brand

Shell’s Arctic drilling debacle, wasting $7 billion before abandoning the ill-fated project, generated a huge amount of adverse publicity for the Shell brand. Greenpeace ran an innovative high profile campaign and are to be congratulated on the outcome.

Shell has been unloved for decades.

Some of the reasons, including Shell’s despicable conduct in Nigeria, were covered in a remarkable Guardian article – Unloveable Shell, the goddess of oil – published on 15 November 1997. 

It revealed a real can of worms involving pollution, corruption, violence and extra-judicial murder.

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net, shell2004.com, shellshareholders.org, don-marketing.com and cybergriping.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article: royaldutchshellplc.com

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