CHAPTER 18: Time for a rare public apology from Shell?

Members of Nigeria’s Ogoni community protest against Shell in New York. Photograph: Bebeto Matthews/AP

Shell does not appear to be big on making apologies. Google “Shell apology” and the search results relate to hoax Shell apologies for human rights abuses in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. Shell has recently apologized for causing Dutch earthquakes, but not for the evil conduct of its past directors in relation to the financing and appeasement of the Nazis, which cost some Shell employees their lives. 


In 2010, it seemed that Shell had apologized for human rights abuses in the Niger Delta, but it all turned out to be a prank. 

A senior official of Royal Dutch Shell confirmed in email correspondence with me that the apology was a hoax perpetrated via YouTube by The Yes Men activist group. 


Nederlandsche Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM) is a Shell/Exxon jointly owned operating company in Holland. NAM (the name means the “Dutch Oil Company”) operates the Groningen gas field. Most staff are seconded from Shell. 

In April 2015, NAM apologized for causing earthquakes in the Netherlands as a result of its gas extraction activities in the Groningen natural gas field. It had already warned of more severe earthquakes. The Dutch government also apologized. 

The Dutch safety board stated that Shell, Exxon, and the Dutch government, all put profits before safety. It said the dangers were ignored for years. “Maximising profit was prioritised over safety issues, said the board.”


People working for Royal Dutch Shell Plc today obviously have no responsibility for actions taken decades ago by an earlier generation of Shell executives, all of whom are long deceased. 

Nonetheless, Royal Dutch Shell and its globally famed brand name Shell still thrives and exploits the positive aspects of its long history, stretching back over more than a century. 

To some degree, the company has accepted the negative legacy of its Nazi past by including reference to the subject in the 2007 corporate history publication.  

However, the acknowledgement was spoilt by the spin. In any event, few people would have read about Shell’s Nazi history if it had remained buried as it was, in the four-volume commemorative work originally intended for Shell staff and pensioners. 

Despite trumpeting its claimed business principles for many decades, pledges of honesty, integrity, openness etc., Shell is still collaborating with and supporting dictatorship regimes and engaging in cloak and dagger activities. 

The same double-talk applies to safety issues, with Shell senior management putting profit before the safety of its own employees. 

When will Shell learn that it is deeds, not words, which count?

An apology for past corporate sins and a positive change in Shell’s future conduct would be welcome.

On past performance, it is unlikely to be forthcoming. 

(Screenshot of fake Shell apology – See Video Clip on YouTube)

In June 2019, there was news of other big businesses with a Nazi tainted history belatedly taking steps to deal with hereditary sins. The steps have included financial measures, apologises and compensation.

A New York Times article published on 14 June 2019 revealed that billionaire descendants of a family who control a company which owns Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Pret A Manger and a number of other famous brands are grappling with the exposure of an unspeakable secret – a Nazi history.

On 27 June 2019, the Guardian newspaper published a related article:

Dutch railway to pay out €50m over role in Holocaust


The Dutch railway has accepted a recommendation that it pay up to €50m (£45m) to relatives of thousands of people it transported to Nazi death camps during the second world war. Roger van Boxtel, the chief executive of the state-owned Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), said it was time for the company to make a gesture to those “directly involved” as he reiterated an apology first made in 2005. In 2014, the French railways operator SNCF agreed to pay £40m in compensation for its role in moving approximately 76,000 Jews to Nazi camps during the Holocaust.

No such actions or gestures from Shell.

Instead, Shell has recently received the dubious distinction of being named as the most hated brand in the world. See news reports in the screenshot gallery. And that was before the Nazi history of Shell was generally known. 

Links to the featured articles:

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

See screenshot below, featuring part of the relevant Campaign Magazine article:

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

See screenshot below featuring part of the relevant article published by The Guardian:

Shell remains world’s most hated brand

See screenshot below featuring part of the relevant article published by PR Week:

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This entry was posted in Alaska, Appeasement, Arctic, Environment, Exxon, Groningen Earthquakes, Human Rights, NAM, Niger Delta, Nigeria, Ogoni, Oil, Royal Dutch Shell, Royal Dutch Shell Group, Shell, Shell Spying, The Nazis, The Netherlands, World War 2, Yes Men and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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