Friday 23 November 2007
By John Donovan
of RoyalDutchShellPlc.com

Earlier this year David Greer was riding high as Deputy Chief Executive of Sakhalin Energy. He had already been a Shell Managing Director before being seconded to the Sakhalin-2 project in Russia, the biggest oil and gas project in the world.

In June David Greer resigned in disgrace after my website www.royaldutchshellplc.com supplied to the FT a leaked motivational memo from Greer which was notable because of its stirring military tone. It was designed to lift the spirits of a work force demoralised by the strong-armed takeover of the Sakhalin-2 project by the Russian energy giant, Gazprom. Unfortunately the best parts of the Greer memo were quickly exposed as being plagiarised from a Second World War speech by the legendary American General George S. Patton. Within days Greer left Shell after a 27 year career.

On Wednesday Shell announced that it had signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Regal Petroleum plc to acquire a 51% interest in Regal Petroleum (Jersey) Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Regal Petroleum plc indirectly holding licences for important gas fields in Ukraine. (taken from a Shell statement)

This morning a number of UK newspapers announced that Greer had been appointed as Chairman and CEO of Regal. It is true that he has many fans. One of them posted the following comment on our “Live Chat” facility this morning:

“David Greer will now have a field day with the shell apparatchicks. Good for Regal that they have a very competent and tough CEO now. I wish David all the best and predict he will make it a great succes story.”

Greer was reportedly offered the job yesterday – Thursday – after the Shell deal had been announced. According to the Financial Times, Mr Greer said he planned a “dramatic” increase in drilling in Ukraine, with the aim of “markedly” increasing proved reserves.  Greer was reported as saying: “We have to evaluate this Shell offer and compare it against other funding mechanisms”.

When I read the comment attributed to Greer, I wondered what Shell would make of it as it appeared a decidedly hostile utterance. This afternoon, Reuters reported that Shell has pulled out of the deal.

Based on Shell insider information received, I believe the Chief Executive of Shell Exploration & Production, Malcolm Brinded, played a decisive role in the “resignation” of Greer from Sakhalin Energy and in the decision taken today.

It appears that the hapless “General” Greer has shot himself in both feet again. Will this be the shortest oil company appointment in history?

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