Shell Oil Announces Pipeline Spill A Non-Issue – Barbados News Media & Government Ask Zero Questions Of Company Hired To “Ensure Buy-In” To Shell Strategies

So-Called "Clean-Up" By Shell Oil In Barbados

So-Called "Clean-Up" By Shell Oil In Barbados

Shell Report Issued By ERM – Environmental Resources Management – Shell’s Little Environmental Helper For 20 Years

“For over 20 years, ERM has provided a wide range of services to Shell at numerous locations world wide, including North America, Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia Pacific…”

“Shell Haven Refinery – ERM Project Description

Maintained close liaison with UK Environment Agency and local regulatory authority, Shell, and future site developer to ensure buy-in to strategy from all parties and to expedite progress by achieving tacit up-front regulatory acceptance of phased strategy, site-specific risk-based cleanup criteria, and remedial methodology.”

“Original remedial cost estimate before ERM was contracted was $140 million; to date, cost is $14 million, representing 90% in savings with project nearly 90% complete.”

… Above from the Shell Haven Refinery case study report by ERM

Area Wells Still Filled With Jet Fuel, But Don’t Worry About It!

The front page of today’s Barbados Advocate reads “All Clear For Shell Pipeline”. The story tells how Shell Oil hired an environmental consulting company called ERM to do a “study” of the contamination caused by spilled fuel from Shell’s leaky airport pipeline.

Surprise surprise! Everything is okay, don’t you know!

Please excuse me for having my doubts — because five minutes of research on the Internet showed that Environmental Resources Management ERM has been on the Shell Oil payroll for 20 years and has made millions of dollars handling Shell Oil’s sticky wicket environmental situations.

That includes Africa too – and we all know about Shell in Africa, don’t we?

The ERM company website even brags about ensuring that government officials “buy-in to strategy” and how ERM personnel “achieve tacit upfront regulatory acceptance” – meaning that ERM are experts in getting government officials to see things to Shell Oil’s benefit. In the Shell Haven Refinery case listed in Google’s database, the UK government originally demanded a $140 million dollar site clean-up, but ERM reduced that to a far nicer number for Shell Oil: $14 million.

Please excuse me for having doubts about the independence of a company that has banked millions of dollars from Shell Oil contracts over the last 20 years and brags about its ability to have government officials “buy-in” to Shell’s plans.

Not to mention that in Barbados we have no laws that prohibit government officials from receiving gifts or benefits from corporations that need them to provide approvals. You see, it is still legal in Barbados for elected or appointed government officials to use their offices for personal gain.

So once again, please forgive me if I have some doubts.

Oh… how much in “campaign donations” did Shell Oil give to Barbados politicians? There are no laws that govern such donations and you have no right to know about it!

And then there is the little matter that neither the DLP nor the BLP government even passed a simple law compelling pipeline owners to make daily measurements and report any leakage to the government! Shell Oil never kept leakage records or filed them with the government. Meaning that nobody has any idea of the exact amount of Shell jet fuel that leaked into our water table over a ten or twelve year period!

What About Those Wells Filled With Jet Fuel?

Again, pardon me for having some doubts, but I happen to remember that before the DLP were elected they participated in a visit to a well only 500 feet from a beach where a bucket of almost pure jet fuel was raised…

Today, (Thursday 3rd January 2008), I visited Oistins at the Southern Farmers request and witnessed a bucket being lowered into a well close to the road and where an Urban Development project is taken place.

The well was about 500 feet from the beach and when the bucket was lifted it contained what appeared to be almost pure kerosene.

Also there was Mr Lashley, Mr Boyce, Mr Jones and Senator Lowe of the DLP, The PEP candidate, several members of the media including the Advocate, Nation and CBC…

… from the BFP article Barbados Shell Pipeline Jet Fule Leak – “Almost Pure Kerosene” Fills Domestic Water Well

Do You Trust Shell Oil’s “Everything Is Okay” Report?

Sorry folks, but I still have big doubts about this Shell report. How about you?


Filed under Barbados

23 responses to “Shell Oil Announces Pipeline Spill A Non-Issue – Barbados News Media & Government Ask Zero Questions Of Company Hired To “Ensure Buy-In” To Shell Strategies

  1. cq8

    How much did Shell Oil pay to the DLP in “campaign donations” ???

    Judging by the size of the headline, and no questions from reporters or doubts raised in the story, the Barbados Advocate probably received some “advertising revenue” too!

  2. passin thru

    A pity that the reporters at the Barbados Advocate didn’t do five minutes of internet research into ERM before they printed the headline assuring the public that all is well.

    What about interviewing the Minister of the Environment? Health Minister? Some farmers?

    That would be reasonable for a reporter researching this article.

    It smells like rotten fish to me.

  3. Missing Home

    The Nation and the CBC did not cover this story. Why not?

  4. Missing Home

    I meant they didn’t cover the story of the new report.

  5. reality check

    A whitewash by “paid for” environmental prostitutes.

    What does this make the local newspapers and Minister of Environment?

    Does anyone know what the word independent means?

    It means the government acting on behalf of the people carries out its own assessment with independent international EIA experts and sends the bill and a list of clean up and damage demands to Shell requiring immediate payment and action.

    How low ( pathetic ) can a government get?

  6. Red Lake Lassie

    Where is Environment Minister Lowe’s statement to the public about this? He was there when the bucket of pure jet fuel was pulled from the well not five hundred feet from the beach!!!


  7. Red Lake Lassie

    Reality Check, didn’t you mean “How Lowe can a government get?”

  8. Chicago

    I don’t trust Shell and I don’t trust our fat politicians. Dr. Lowe, why don’t you explain yourself and your government’s position on the Shell pipeline spill?

  9. 214

    EMR is Shell’s “fixer” for spills and cleanups. You’re not joking about all the information available on the web. Have a look at all the times that EMR was hired by Shell to minimize cleanup costs and “manage” environmental authorities and politicians.

  10. Mike Ashby

    BFP, thanks for raising this story again. This is an issue that has been given very little attention but goes to the heart of the maltreatment Bajans are willing to take in their ignorance. It is a fact that over a period of about 12 years (or more) Shell Oil pipeline was leaking oil into the underground water supply in the Gibbons Boggs area. The Southern Farmers Group contention is “the surrounding natural environment, including potable water, the popular Miami Beach and the wider open sea (South coast coral reefs) could be seriously damaged.” After the government representatives visited the area on 1/3/08 there has been no statement from the government on this matter. A spokesperson for the group (Arrindel Evelyn) said: “As far as evidence from testing done by Shell and BADMC (Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation), they realise that the oil was moving out of the agricultural zone and into the coastal zone region. This is now developing into an ecological problem that would affect our fishery and tourism industry. At that time, a public relations consultant for Shell (Carol Smith) told the WEEKEND NATION “the aviation pipeline was “decommissioned” in 2006, evacuated and concrete filled and could no longer be associated with leakage.”

    Since this situation was first bought to the attention of the government, specifically, WHAT HAS SHELL OIL DONE TO REMEDIATE THIS SITUATION THAT WOULD LEAD ERM TO CONCLUDE THAT THIS WAS NOT A PROBLEM?

    At the time, the minimum clean-up cost was estimated at $500,000 USD. Since Shell Oil has not provided any numbers, it is estimated by the Southern Farmers Association that as much as 300,000 gallons may have been spill. That estimate is however unclear since the leakage was discovered in 1995 after a major leak, with another major leak occurring in 2003. What is unknown is how much oil leaked out since the pipeline has been continuously leaking between 1995 and 2003, and there is no records provided of the instances before 1995. As buried lines goes, leaking can occur for a significant period of time before discovery, if there is no monitoring of levels or line pressure. (maybe Shell Oil records can clear this up). To date, ‘Shell has offered the farmers only two million dollars to be divided among thirty farmers, who suffered twelve years of contamination on 186 acres of land.’

    The Nation News carried this story on 2 December 2005 and 7 December 2006., and Michelle Springer’s Concern over oil in well, was published on January 4, 08. Maybe they still have copies.

    If you’re interesting, there is a report: Use your profit to clean up your mess: Report on how Shell should fund local solutions for environmental and social destruction caused by its projects published on 1 February 2007 by the Shell Accountability Coalition(,

  11. Green Monkey

    And I still see foolish “shoot demself in de foot” Bajans lining up to buy their gas from Shell branded stations.

  12. Green Monkey

    On May 26, 2009, oil company Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) will stand trial in federal court in New York for complicity on egregious human rights abuses in Nigeria.

    On November 10, 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa, an acclaimed writer and leader of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), was hanged along with eight other Ogoni leaders, after a trial before a military tribunal that was condemned around the world as a sham. Ken Saro-Wiwa’s last words were: “Lord take my soul but the struggle continues.”

    For more background on Shell’s environmental record in Nigeria and to follow the upcoming court case in New York brought against Shell by the Center for Constitutional Rights in conjunction with Earthrights International, go here:

  13. skinteeth

    Is it possible for a class action lawsuit ,on behalf of all the affected groups, against Shell in either this jurisdiction or possibly where the head office is located ?

  14. Green Monkey

    Now at last it’s time for Shell to atone for my father’s death

    The son of the executed activist faces the oil giant in a human rights trial this week. He seeks understanding rather than retribution


    Fourteen years ago, Ken Saro-Wiwa predicted that Shell would one day have to account for its actions in Nigeria. “I repeat,” he wrote in what would have been his final statement to the military tribunal that was to order his execution, “that I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial. Shell is here on trial… the company has, indeed, ducked this particular trial, but its day will surely come … there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war that the company has waged in the delta will be called to question sooner than later and the crimes of that war be duly punished. The crime of the company’s dirty wars against the Ogoni people will also be punished.”

  15. I continue to stress vehemently to my colleagues in Barbados that this matter simply need a bit of “fire”… With all the kerosene Shell has dumped – let this matter be blown up into a firestorm where the news media is given traction on the issues and it is exposed in the international arena…

    I have been fanning the flames but let’s face it – many of us are all talk and no actions…

    It took one little woman to expose the corruption in the hallowed halls of the British Parliament – where our so-called “honorable” men and women were like pigs to a trough where it has now come to light the level of shenanigans, lies and corruption that has been involved with taxpayer’s money…

    SHELL’s day is surely coming!!! This “Goliath” too shall fall – it is only a matter of time!!!

  16. Mike Ashby

    I totally agree with you. I want to add that we’re not trying to discourage multi-nationals from doing business in b’dos, but want to remind them that they have a responsibility to bajans and barbados not to degrade our environment. In the event of an accident during normal opperations the full responsibility is theirs to remedy. Our gov’t must ensure this.

  17. A year and a half ago I met with SOUTHERN FARMERS while in Barbados on a Project Management assignment and I offered my legal expertise having studied Criminal & Human Rights Law at my UK University – in the hope that we could have blown up this affair to international proportions but as I have already reiterated, Bajans are more talk than concerted action – for that reason is why governments, multinationals and others are able to get away with all kinds of “CRAP” and at the same time, feed us any amount of B.S. which we seem to swallow without moral or social outrage.

    Is it something in the WATER in BARBADOS?

    Have Bajans taken note of international news in the last few years especially here in the UK and around the EU where G-8 and other capitalists assemble? Have they not seen how “GLOBALIZATION PROTESTERS” behave, including anarchists who are “hell-bent” on civil destruction and chaos to prove a point?

    What is the matter with us? Are we so docile that basic social protest is beyond us?

    Why are Bajans so docile, impotent and full of “hot” air?

    It’s gotta’ be the “KEROSENE” Shell has dumped in the water table or the “Chlorine” we are forced to drink which has resulted in us being a nation of pacifists who allow their governments to embezzle, lie and steal their inheritance and investment dollars under the guise of social political legitimacy while others run rampant over our civil, industrial and cultural liberties because of they believe they have a socioeconomic mandate which is a license to steal, kill, maim and trample over the rights of others.

    Without accountability, men run roughshod over the rights of the innocent, the poor, marginalized and dispossessed. We must hold those who hurt and destroy our environment and breach the moral hedges of social integrity with the long-arm of the law. Every man – regardless of his station in life, must be subject to the law and must pay the penalties under that law.

    Regrettably, it appears that there is one set of laws for the political and corporate classes and another set of laws for the rest of us… This is justification for moral and social outrage, socio-political insurrection and revolution if it comes to that…

    If history has taught us anything – “men have died and are dying for a lot less”…

    What is going to be our response if our government don’t listen, refuse to act and frankly don’t care – I think that is clear!!!

  18. Mike Ashby

    TMB you touch on some very interesting points. I am sorry to say but in all our perceived advances, we’re still subscribe to plantocracy and colonialism (NOT Capitalism). This “docile impotent, full-of-hot-air” disposition you referenced is a relic of white rule.

    Let me share this story with you;

    ‘My brother’, the senior accounts manager, had been working at a large well-known US-based hotel on the south coast for 15 years. During that time, financial comptrollers, would come, stay for a year or two and head back to the US. Well on several occasions, the FC that was heading home was also taking with them ‘6-figures’ belonging to said hotel. When the stink died down, they would send another FC and ‘my brother’ would have to bring the newbie up to scratch. After 2 consecutive FCs took money, the GM asked my brother to accept the FC position but at his current pay (significantly less than what the holidaying FCs from the US were getting). When ‘my brother’ said NO! FC pay for FC position, the GM told him, a Bajan with over 15 years in senior management, that he DID NOT HAVE ANY LOYALITY. My brother stayed on less than a year after that encounter.

    One of the main reasons why we’re having the problem with undocumented labour, is because of how all the B’dos-based US/EU operated; foreign-owned B’dos-based; B’dos-owned-based-operated entities perceive the value of service and labour provided by Bajans. We have to set the perimeters under which they can operate and follow up. The choice is our, we can enforce our regulations and let them run to México or we can let them destroy our environment, and still run to México when there is nothing else.

  19. Hey Mike…

    Thanks so much ‘ole boy for your comments…

    Sadly, I am not surprised at the story you have just elucidated. This is endemic within our society it seems – but it is reinforced by our government who like the “Priest” and the “Levite” chooses to pass on the other side…

    From your perspective, WHAT CAN WE DO?

    How can we really shake things up in Barbados?

    Surely there is something that can be done!!!

    I would have thought that after a decade and half of Owen Arthur and his corrupt administration that the current DLP under David Thompson would recognize the absolute necessity of transparency, accountability and integrity…

    So much for “cheap talk”… (Well, unless you’re OPRAH)!!!

    I am really disheartened to see what is going on in my country…

    In 2006, while in Barbados, I was in a meeting with Neville Rowe at Mall Internationale, Haggatt Hall, who at the time was Communications & Marketing Director for the DLP and a personal friend of David Thompson – he’d asked for my help in getting David elected. He wanted to draw on my literary communication and academic skills as a precursor of what was going to be an uphill struggle to unseat an incumbent, yet corrupt and beleaguered BLP government.

    I said to Neville – “Look, I live in the UK and my commitments take me here, there and everywhere…” I told him categorically that all I could offer without fear of compromise would be to act in an advisory capacity to the PM if elected, but it was critical for all concerned to understand that I can NOT be bought or sold; I will always speak my mind without fear of censure, ridicule or approbation; and, I will NOT under any circumstances abrogate my religious and spiritual responsibility to – truth, righteousness and integrity.

    Well I guess you can imagine how that was received!!!

    We concluded that from a geographical perspective which included the time and distance away from Barbados but crucially based on the PM’s policy positions in taking Barbados forward (after the trauma of the BLP’s onslaught on the Barbadian people in the final, dwindling years of their tyrannical hold on power) – it was important to me that those on the lower rounds of the socioeconomic ladder, the marginalized and the disenfranchised youth of our country be able to have a voice – only then would I be able offer my services in the areas of social policy and the possibly as a “speechwriter”.

    After exchanging several emails with the PM on returning to the UK, I was quite vocal in my admonition to him to study the “Wisdom of Solomon” as a means of doing the right thing by his people. I reminded him of the “divine revelations” given to Daniel as he occupied the most exalted position of Secretary of State of Babylon – the only known super-power of its time (in the light of the fact that he came into prominence having had been a slave, but God reminded His servant that He is the One who raises up governments and takes down leaders).

    If after a year of a new government, the PM and his cabinet colleagues refuse to adhere to the principles outlined in their Manifesto and have decided that accountability and transparency was merely gimmickry – then their legacy will be no different to that of the current British PM Gordon Brown who as a result of political “karma” is now reaping what he has sown after decades of being seen as a savvy political operator.

    The ‘ole people’ remind us that the “more the monkey climb, the more you see he a**e…

    Many of us tend to forget that what we sow – we reap!!!

    The Barbados government is obligated to push SHELL to do the right thing. Even OBAMA realizes that “government must be, by the people, for the people.” Special interests, lobbyists and power-brokers are mindless, self-serving and blatantly callous, thinking only of their own bottom–lines.

    The affected farmers in Gibbons and surrounding areas along with local activists must press hard for amelioration, settlement and conclusive arbitration in this 14 year-old saga. Depending on your local Parliamentary Rep. to take up your plight is like asking “DIS”-honorable members of the British House of Commons not to abuse their expenses.

    Frankly, this whole affair is NOT only stupid but painfully “asinine” – shy short of a “hemorrhoid” for a country which prides itself on a 98.9% literacy rate…

    With all the so-called education we claim to have as a people, clearly, COMMONSENSE is not very common in my country!!!

  20. Well Ken’s prophecy came true today in New York where SHELL settled out of court for $15.5 million which is a small financial victory given the malignant evil inflicted on the OGONI* PEOPLE, their lifestyles and their livelihoods.

    Maybe now the folks in BARBADOS will get their skates on and follow the NIGERIAN posse to New York in a similar lawsuit for compensation…

    This is the “spark” that was needed to throw on this “kerosene” to light the flame that will burn another small hole in the pocket of SHELL…

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