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Shell Deal Will Cut Fuel Bills

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Bahamas Power & Light’s (BPL) top executive yesterday said “the country could not have a better partner” than Shell, with the deal’s “transformational” impact extending well beyond the energy sector.

Whitney Heastie told The Tribune that selecting Shell North America to develop New Providence’s new power plant would ensure “opportunities are wide open” for Bahamian businesses and residents, including the possibility of liquefied natural gas (LNG) being sold to individual companies.

Describing Shell as a world leader in LNG supply, Mr Heastie revealed the energy giant plans to develop a bunkering facility at Clifton Pier so it can supply cruise lines and other vessels that have converted to this fuel.

The BPL chief executive explained the additional revenue from this facility will lower Shell’s costs for shipping LNG to this nation, a benefit that would ultimately be passed on to Bahamian consumers through lower fuel and energy prices.

Emphasising that “we’re not going to be fumbling here”, Mr Heastie said Shell was the best, least-risk option to build, own and operate the 270 Mega Watt (MW) power plant that will use multiple fuels to supply the majority of New Providence’s energy needs from 2021 onwards.

While LNG prices are currently 50 percent less than the diesel fuel used by BPL’s existing Blue Hills power plant, Mr Heastie said the state-owned utility was currently unable to forecast how much energy costs will decline by once the new power plant becomes operational.

While pledging that Bahamians will see “significant savings” in fuel costs alone, the BPL chief executive said there were numerous “pieces” that had to fall into place before a final “all-in” cost of energy can be provided to the public.

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OIL ‘all over the place’ at BPL - a sign of the need for good management, says Whitney Heastie.

He explained these “pieces” included the final cost of the Rate Reduction Bond (RRB), which will raise funds to refinance BPL’s legacy $350 million debt and other liabilities. The RRB costs will ultimately be paid by BPL customers via an additional charge added to their bills, but the state-owned utility has yet to determine how much money it needs to generate.

To maximise the savings to consumers from the new Shell power plant, Mr Heastie said BPL was now “skimming the fat” to reduce its own costs and operate more efficiently, so that Bahamians benefit fully from lower energy costs.

“I think it’s going to be transformational; I really do,” the BPL chief told The Tribune of Shell’s selection. “Opportunities are wide open to residential and commercial customers.

“You look at a complement of things when you evaluate these bids. Prices were one component, the entity’s experience is another, and in this industry safety and the environment has to be top. That has to be prime.

“When you look at Shell’s safety record, environmental record, operational record and innovation with technology around LNG, it’s just incredible. Shell is the largest entity next to a country to supply LNG. There’s no other company that supplies the volume of LNG that Shell does,” Mr Heastie continued.

“We considered all those things. For a country never engaged in this fuel market before, we could not have asked for a better partner as a country than Shell. We could not, because of all the experience they bring to the table. They operate plants around the world. We’re not going to be fumbling here. That’s very important for a country as opposed to a company.”

Mr Heastie said Shell will construct an LNG storage facility, as well as new power plant, in the Clifton Pier area. He suggested the storage facility would not benefit only BPL, but could be used to supply industries and individual businesses with the fuel, too.

“LNG has the ability to transform this country in so much,” he explained. “You’re going to have companies that set up small vaporisers at their place of business. They can put in fuelling stations, or you have a truck that comes and sells gas to merchants here. There’s so many opportunities when you bring that scale of gas on the island.”

Mr Heastie acknowledged that LNG only made economic sense when large volumes can be supplied, resulting in Shell’s plan to use its proposed Clifton Pier facilities for bunkering and supplying the fuel to ships passing through Bahamian waters.

International Maritime Organisation (IMO) directives will impose limits on ship emissions from 2020, and this is driving the cruise ship industry to use LNG as its main fuel. Some 20 per cent of ‘new builds’ are expected to use this source and, of 100 vessels in the industry ‘pipeline’, around one-third - some 30 - are destined for the Bahamas and Caribbean.

“What Shell did in their proposal was...... they can also engage in bunkering and move additional volumes of LNG,” Mr Heastie told The Tribune. “That makes the price [of energy to Bahamians] even more attractive.

“They can build infrastructure at Clifton Pier, and transshipment costs come down because of the volumes they can move and use the storage facility for bunkering. It seemed, based on their size in the LNG market, their ability to provide us with everything we needed, it just seemed like it was a good fit for the Bahamas. That’s how we got where we are.”

Mr Heastie yesterday defended the bidding process from criticism that it lacked transparency and favoured particular offers, pointing to the independent review by the Ernst & Young (EY) accounting firm which found no significant deficiencies.

“Because of some concerns after January 9, when we presented to the Cabinet, the Government decided to have EY do an independent analysis of the process,” he told The Tribune. “They said outside of one or two things, like a little bit of confusion, the process was fine. There was nothing wrong with the process.

“It related to the clarity of some of the changes, but at the end of the day they felt the changes were clear enough as we had the majority of bids still bidding on the changes we sent out.

“Certainly we have learnt from the process, but I don’t think that it lacked transparency in any form or fashion, and it was dealt with in a way that the results would not change. The results would not have changed.”

Comments

TheMadHatter 1 month, 3 weeks ago

"...because of all the experience they bring to the table. They operate plants around the world."

Really? Like where? What small country in the world uses LNG to supply more than 50% of its grid power to homes and businesses?

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seamphony 1 month, 3 weeks ago

insert money eye emoji x2 that my friends is the sound of the money filling up pockets. just not yours. insert money eye emoji x2 palm tree emoji

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Socrates 1 month, 3 weeks ago

have to be concerned about the lack of specifics. i suspect, with all the add-ons contemplated, it is likely the average joe will see no measurable drop in his light bill. beside the legacy debt, infrastructural improvements required and not to mention multi-tens of millions of dollars to pay folks to leave, it seems a stretch that there could possibly be a drop....

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akbar 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I agree with you not one specific detail and how this actually cut fuel bills.

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BahamaPundit 1 month, 3 weeks ago

This is fake news. The real news is the question of conflict of interest and why the project was not open to public bidding - they circumvented the rightful process by not giving bidders all of the information. This is another PLP type crony deal, where somebody in high places is likely getting a multi million dollar finder's fee. Rubish. Rubish Rubish. (See yesterday's Guardian business section for further details).

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BahamaPundit 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Notice how she basically says the bidding process was a "teachable moment." In other countries people go to jail for "teachable moment," not here. Here, they just talk to us like we don't understand and are two year olds and laugh all the way to the bank. The FNM is PLP 2.0.

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DDK 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Like the U.S. Democrats and Republicans, they have morphed into one party, the upper echelons! All for the top tier, nothing for the rest!

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akbar 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Not one specific detail about how this will cut fuel bills and how these fuel bill cuts will definitely translate to lower bills for the consumer. They so crafty in the business section actually talking about increasing the utility bill to fund a debt option.All we will be doing is purchasing more costly electricity from a foreign entity who will wheelbarrow the profits out the country.

Remember he is talking about fuel bill cuts not consumer bill cuts. Two different things.

An interesting story in the international section how Mexico new government intend to end power production deals with foreign companies. Interestingly previous governments deliberately closed power plants and signed deals with foreign companies who in turned provided even more expensive energy. Sounding familiar. Will we ever get to point in this country, one of the supposed wealthiest countries in this region, where we can fix our own problems? What's the use of all these college graduates if their only solutions to problems is to 'let some foreigner do it'.

Peace and God is Great!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 3 weeks ago

"....including the possibility of liquefied natural gas (LNG) being sold to individual companies."

Does this mean Sir Snake's FOCOL would be an unnecessary intermediary from which BPL and we Bahamians would have to buy our fuel?

".....the energy giant plans to develop a bunkering facility at Clifton Pier so it can supply cruise lines and other vessels that have converted to this fuel."

"There’s no other company that supplies the volume of LNG that Shell does,” Mr Heastie continued."

Mr Heastie acknowledged that LNG only made economic sense when large volumes can be supplied, resulting in Shell’s plan to use its proposed Clifton Pier facilities for bunkering and supplying the fuel to ships passing through Bahamian waters."

“They can build infrastructure at Clifton Pier, and transshipment costs come down because of the volumes they can move and use the storage facility for bunkering. It seemed, based on their size in the LNG market, their ability to provide us with everything we needed, it just seemed like it was a good fit for the Bahamas. That’s how we got where we are.”

The residents of Lyford Cay, Albany, Old Forte and Adelaide are going to have a hizzy-tizzy fit when they learn that a major bunkering and re-fuelling facility for all ships cruising the Caribbean seas is going to be established in their back-yard. In fact, all residents of New Providence should be up in arms at such a large-scale LNG facility be planted anywhere on our island. There's nowhere along the southeastern seaboard of the U.S. where this would be allowed for safety and environmental reasons. The dangers and unfavorable environment impact of such facilities is all too well known. Mr. Heastie readily admits the facility would also serve as a major fuel trans-shipment facility for the southeastern seaboard of the U.S. In other words, we in the Bahamas take on all the safety and environmental risks that U.S. citizens along the southeastern seaboard of the U.S. are unwilling to assume.

"....the additional revenue from this facility will lower Shell’s costs for shipping LNG to this nation, a benefit that would ultimately be passed on to Bahamian consumers through lower fuel and energy prices."

In other words, Shell North America is going to give all of a paltry discount on our fuel for taking on the well known dangers and unfavorable environmental impacts associated with having a large-scale refueling facility for all ships that cruise the Caribbean region.

"The RRB costs will ultimately be paid by BPL customers via an additional charge added to their bills, but the state-owned utility has yet to determine how much money it needs to generate."

In other words don't count on seeing a real reduction in your BPL bills from the paltry fuel discount the Shell North America deal would provide.

Our government is truly dumber than dumb....selling out the health and safety of all of us to a major U.S. corporation.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 3 weeks ago

“Because of some concerns after January 9, when we presented to the Cabinet, the Government decided to have EY do an independent analysis of the process,” he {Mr. Heastie} told The Tribune. “They {EY} said outside of one or two things, like a little bit of confusion, the process was fine. There was nothing wrong with the process."

Whitney Heastie is taking all of us for fools. Ernst & Young (EY) are not at all independent in this matter and should have refused to accept any and all engagements to review and analyze this proposed deal with Shell North America. The 2017 consolidated financial statements of Royal Dutch Shell plc, which has a controlling interest in Shell North America, were signed by Allistar Wilson (Senior Statutory Auditor in the U.K.) for and on behalf of Ernst & Young LLP on March 14, 2018. For the year 2017 EY globally earned fees from Royal Dutch Shell and its controlled subsidiaries and affiliates totaling in excess of $53 million. EY locally is of course nothing but an approved arm of the EY global firm.

Therefore, for Whitney Heastie or any other BPL or government official to suggest EY is independent of Shell North America is nothing but a load of untruthful and misleading malarkey. In fact, many Bahamians should be seriously questioning why the Minnis-led FNM administration is refusing to take legal action against EY for its apparent failure, as independent auditors of Bank of The Bahamas (BoB), to detect and/or report to BoB's shareholders the fraudulent lending practices that resulted in the fleecing of BoB by political elites and their family members and business cronies. Certain of the stakeholders in BoB who have lost an awful lot of money have obtained a report prepared by forensic professionals whom they engaged for the purpose of finding out how BoB should best go about recouping the lion's share of its losses. The forensic professionals apparently recommended that EY should be sued for its part in the financial demise of BoB. But the Minnis-led FNM government have so far refused to act on that advice, and instead have awarded many of the investigations into the affairs of the previous Christie-led PLP government to EY. All of this should raise very serious questions about the ability of EY to act independently for the current government in any matter. Why are Minnis and Turnquest so willing to let EY off the hook with respect to BoB and at the same time shower that firm with new riches from all of the very costly investigation engagements it has been awarded since May 2017? Is it because Minnis and Turquest can leverage the possibility of a legal action against EY re. BoB in order to squeeze out of EY the types of reports they wish to get that are highly critical of the previous government and also provide the kind of incriminating evidence desired against certain senior PLP officials?

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BahamaPundit 1 month, 3 weeks ago

“So you have a country like The Bahamas, where water and light is the two most significant items that we use in our daily life. You’re now having a foreign entity to sell you power to be responsible for the electricity on the island of New Providence?

“That is very dangerous.”

Leslie Miller

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BahamaPundit 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I also find it hilarious that BEC is using its new name "Bahamas Power And Light BPL" to pretend like it's no longer a government company and owned by the Bahamian people. In other words, it's acting like it's a completely different company from BEC and a private company at that. It acting like it can do whatever the hell it wants. You can't make this stuff up.

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BahamaPundit 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I finally understand what is happening here: The Bahamas Government has basically privatized BEC with this deal. This story is getting far too little Press for its huge ramifications. BEC has been sold just like BTC!!! However, the sale is very clandestine and secret. A foreign company will be producing and own the power in New Providence!!! No Bahamians were given the chance tov buy shares or any ownership whatsoever. What a disgrace!!!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Now most of you will appreciate why I've been taking Minnis to task for his very foolish decision to appoint Darnell Osbourne as Chairman of BPL.

The IMF, IDB and other international agencies that have encouraged our dumb corrupt politicians to take on unsustainable and crippling foreign currency denominated debt are now gloating that one of their constituents, Shell North America, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, is on the verge of being able to force on us a preposterous deal that would have them plant on our pristine and environmentally sensitive shores (on our most populated island) a large scale LNG bunkering, refueling and trans-shipment facility fraught with great danger and well known unfavourable environmental impact risks. THIS IS ALL SO VERY WRONG!

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concernedcitizen 1 month, 3 weeks ago

nobody forced us to borrow one red cent ,,our own grossly overstaffed public sector and massive corruption forced us to keep borrowing ,,and we all loved it and thought we were great ,,well now its time to pay up ..This is amazing b/c we basically have consumption taxes ,duty/vat therefore our tax base is much larger than our population ,,ie every time a visitor eats they our paying our taxes,, and we still blew through the tax revenue like drunken sailors then borrowed more

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 3 weeks ago

You have no idea how the world works my friend.....of course we were forced to borrow!

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concernedcitizen 1 month, 3 weeks ago

No we were not ,,,but it goes down easier if we blame our predicament on others instead of ourselves

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BahamaPundit 1 month, 3 weeks ago

BEC (BPL) HAS JUST BEEN SOLD TO SHELL NORTH AMERICA, A FOREIGN COMPANY, WITHOUT PROPER BIDDING OR TRANSPARENCY. THIS IS WHAT THE NEWS HEADLINE SHOULD BE. THE DEAL WAS LIKELY DONE WAY BACK. THIS IS MY OPINION. YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST! FIRST BTC WAS SOLD BY THE FNM IN A HIDDEN DEAL WITHOUT PROPER BIDDING. NOW BEC HAS BEEN SOLD IN A HIDDEN DEAL WITHOUT PROPER BIDDING.

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BahamaPundit 1 month, 3 weeks ago

This is how and why the redundancies at BEC were paid for (voluntary seperation packages of over 200K). This is why the downsizing occured. Not to save public funds, but because BEC has been purchased by Shell. It all makes sense now.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Now you understand why Franky Wilson is called Snake. He's a most slimy and deceitful SOB. Behind the scenes Snake has no doubt manipulated the very unwitting and dimwitted Minnis, Turnquest, Heastie, Osborne, and others into accepting the de facto acquisition of BPL by Shell North America on terms that will result in the raping, pillaging and plundering of the Bahamian people. And to think Minnis promised time and time again during the last general election that he would govern with great transparency and make it the people's time. Minnis has since shown over and over again that he's an easily manipulated incompetent dimwit, to say the least.

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DDK 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Great piece Mudda and BahamaPundit!! I think you've got it! SAY IT AIN'T SO!

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The_Oracle 1 month, 3 weeks ago

And who's engines will burn this LNG? Wartsila. diesel engines converted to LNG. Waitaminit, isn't there someone locally tied into them? There goes a snake slithering thru the grass............

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BahamaPundit 1 month, 3 weeks ago

This talk of LNG may likely just be a smoke screen to throw Bahamians off the scent that BEC is being divested of value right in front of their eyes. LNG could be just a small part of the final operation. The real plant will likely be oil based. I have read that a number of high level FNMs own shares in Shell Bahamas (Focol) on Eyewitness News, "The PAC should ask whether the fact that several senior FNM’s have a major stake in Shell Bahamas played a part in the granting of this contract." So, now we know what the FNM has been plotting and wasting all our time on during their first year in office: how to steal BEC without anybody noticing (aka Blue Water). With Shell NA producing all electricity for BPL (their words not mine), they are stripping all value from BEC. Now the question is how they, individually, will profit? Most likely finder's fees of 5-10 million in offshore accounts or, more likely, they will each be given large amounts of equity in the new company formed by Shell NA that owns the new power plant. Either way, buckle up for the ride. Corruption here we come!

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concernedcitizen 1 month, 3 weeks ago

There is no value what so ever to BPL ,no one in their right mind would buy it .Run down equipment ,350 million dollar debt , overstaffed .We have not been able to keep the lights on at a reasonable rate for 40 years .Its not just corrupt people in parliament ,it is corruption all the way through ,,dam we only collect about 40%to50% of customs duty our main source of revenue ,its from the little guy slipping his custom officer 200 dollars to cheat on 3000 dollars worth of goods to the big boys slipping thousands ,,The only business decision any power supplier w any brains would make would be to build own and operate and collect revenue ..It really is as simply as that ..For decades we have had massive corruption w grossly overstaffed government corporations ,dam 600 million walked out the front door of BOB and 100 of millions before that out of the development bank ,,its been a free for all ,,now its time to pay the piper .I used to begrudge the foreign owned hotels etc ,,now thank god for them or we would have nothing ,,remember our hotel ventures ,Ambassodor beach ,,etc ,,that our treasury built for millions and we sold for pennies on the dollar ..No one in their right mind would pay one red nickel for BPl/bpc,,thank god someone is willing to build a new plant b/c we don,t have the money to build one ..I was against VAT too ,but its keeps the big boys from cheating on customs ,,they would be cheating themselves out of their rebate

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OldFort2012 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Finally someone sees and tells the truth. There is no "pillaging" of the Bahamian people. Because if you pillaged everything here, there would not be enough for 2 dinners. It has already been pillaged. All these state owned corporations, together, are not worth a red cent.

All we have proven over the past 50 years is that we cannot run a piss up in a brewery. The sooner we let proper companies own and run EVERYTHING, the sooner we can get on the long road to recovery. Both economic and moral.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Don't be so stupid. Bahamian taxpayers get stuck with all of the additional national debt taken on to remove the major liabilities from BPL/BEC's balance sheet and the new foreign owners and their favoured Bahamian partners swoop in like vultures to start with a clean slate and very profitable utility monopoly that has been de facto privatized.

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OldFort2012 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Don't be so stupid? 1. A market of 400,000 people is not a market, it is an afterthought. 2. Of course they remove the liabilities. Who would take on a company with $350m debt?? Only a moron. It would take centuries to make that much money honestly here. 3. For a utility to be profitable it actually needs to collect some revenue. Have you seen the default figures for BEC? I would not touch the collection side, it is a nightmare. And back to point 1. above. Who in their right mind wants to put a lot of effort in for such a piss poor and piss small market? Certainly not Shell. Get out and see the world a little. No one in their right mind comes to the Bahamas for the Bahamian market. It is worth nothing to them and would be a rounding error on their balance sheet.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The entire revenue cycle is being transformed to a "pay-in-advance" model at a minimum cost of $100 million for the required new equipment. Of course the $100 million plus will be tacked on to our national debt even though it is the new owner(s) who will get the economic benefit from the new pay-in-advance equipment. Annual revenue from residential services alone under the new collection system will likely exceed $150 million. Add to that significant revenue from commercial customers and you end up with a highly profitable utility monopoly. But Shell NA's real bread and butter will of course come from its bunkering, refueling and trans-shipment operations, which will be serving the entire Caribbean region and the southeastern seaboard of the U.S. What we (the Bahamian people) are being forced to give away has an economic value greatly in excess of what we will receive in return, not to mention the environmental and other risks we will be taking on. And it might surprise you to know that the Royal Dutch Shell group has a sizable global footprint that includes many small nations like ours. They will go wherever there's highly profitable business of the monopoly kind to be had, especially if it can be had at a ridiculous fire sale price.

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concernedcitizen 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Who ran up all the debt ,,us yes us w massive corruption an everyone auntie ,cousin ,mummy w government job ,,, The foreign company has to lay out at least 500 million to build a plant ,do u think they should not make money ..We have proven w out a doubt that we are unable to produce reliable power at a reasonable rate ,,we have spent 35 years proving this point ,,w out a doubt . I just had to shell out for my second mini split ac in 3 years b/c of surge and low voltage ..Give me reliable power at the same rate and I would be thrilled ,,any rate reduction would be the cherry on top

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Save it for those who do not know the role played by the international agencies like the IMF and IDB in corrupting the politicians of more vulnerable nations so that their own constituents can make out like bandits.

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The_Oracle 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Shell North America is NOT Shell Bahamas, and would be surprised if Shell N.A. doesn't put a cease and desist on the local one or make them change their logo. It is slightly different. As to the shares in the local Shell, I believe BP is right.

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