BP or Shell? - Ships Nostalgia
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BP or Shell?

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  #1  
Old 16th December 2015, 08:42
Tony Selman's Avatar
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BP or Shell?

I read most threads on SN relating to shipping companies and obviously some are better than others. Bank Line and BP are particularly good, although there are others including my first company Brocklebank's. When I was with P&O/Trident Tankers as an R/O and Electronics Officer I went on to both BP and Shell tankers ship visiting up the Gulf. At one stage I toyed with joining one of them but never did.

My question is, as the major British tanker companies was one regarded as being better than the other? I suppose if you were long term with one company rather than the other you will favour that one but was there a general opinion in the industry one was the better. Did any one work for both? I don't mean this from my own R/O perspective but across the board.

The BP Forum is much more active than the Shell one but that does not really mean anything I suppose. In my case I worked for both Brocklebank and P&O, the former Forum is much more active but personally I thought P&O was the better company to work for.
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Old 16th December 2015, 08:48
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Sailed with both and up until really quite recently BP was head and shoulders above Shell, bp have changed a lot of late and are probably a bit more like shell nowadays not least due to clam line infiltration of the office but are still nowhere near as bizarre as shell - one of the few companies I really really don't like or trust
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  #3  
Old 16th December 2015, 10:54
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"clam line infiltration"

Can you clarify that one?

Did 18 years with BP, and though I am perfectly willing to accept accusation of bias, I believe they were one of the better British employers until 1986, and of course the other mans grass is always greener until you actually get there.
They reacted very well when the ship I was in was involved in a serious incident, and the handling of travel arrangements for my wife was great over several years.
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Last edited by twogrumpy; 16th December 2015 at 11:02..
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  #4  
Old 16th December 2015, 11:04
stevekelly10 stevekelly10 is offline  
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where do I start ? I sailed with both BP and Shell. Chalk and Cheese !! Shell being the cheese, in fact very Cheesey !! from their ships to their personnel manager on the Isle of Mann. Two years of Shell was enough for me! Against 18 mainly happy years with BP
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  #5  
Old 16th December 2015, 16:02
Graham Wallace Graham Wallace is offline  
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I was with BP in 1955 at Acton Technical College for the first two years, only one class of around 23 guys, about 5 were Shell. Years ago I put up a posting in Shell hoping I might get some interest on their names....no replies. Mind you 1955 was a hell of a long time ago.

BP forum is a very active site on Shipsnostalgia

Graham.

PS Tony, we have something in common, same birthday but 6 years apart!

Last edited by Graham Wallace; 16th December 2015 at 16:08..
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  #6  
Old 16th December 2015, 16:23
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Thanks for that Graham, not all that often these days I am younger than someone! I very much enjoy the BP Forum and the reminiscences plus the massive differences between the ships dependant upon where they were built. At one stage when I had been married a couple of years and my seniority in P&O meant I was certain to be on passenger ships for the rest of my career I seriously considered switching to another company and BP and Shell were among them. Went on one of your VLCC's in 1972 up the Gulf somewhere (Mina I think) and she was a nice ship, very similar to the Trident tanker 'Ard' that I was on. In the end I came ashore
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  #7  
Old 16th December 2015, 19:37
jep1916 jep1916 is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Selman View Post
I read most threads on SN relating to shipping companies and obviously some are better than others. Bank Line and BP are particularly good, although there are others including my first company Brocklebank's. When I was with P&O/Trident Tankers as an R/O and Electronics Officer I went on to both BP and Shell tankers ship visiting up the Gulf. At one stage I toyed with joining one of them but never did.

My question is, as the major British tanker companies was one regarded as being better than the other? I suppose if you were long term with one company rather than the other you will favour that one but was there a general opinion in the industry one was the better. Did any one work for both? I don't mean this from my own R/O perspective but across the board.

The BP Forum is much more active than the Shell one but that does not really mean anything I suppose. In my case I worked for both Brocklebank and P&O, the former Forum is much more active but personally I thought P&O was the better company to work for.
Did you ever come across a John Barron. He was a C/E with P & O Trident and a C/E and Engineer Super with Brocklebank and was based in Calcutta in the early 60's.
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  #8  
Old 16th December 2015, 20:15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twogrumpy View Post
"clam line infiltration"

Can you clarify that one?

Did 18 years with BP, and though I am perfectly willing to accept accusation of bias, I believe they were one of the better British employers until 1986, and of course the other mans grass is always greener until you actually get there.
They reacted very well when the ship I was in was involved in a serious incident, and the handling of travel arrangements for my wife was great over several years.
It was a strange state of affairs, Shell had actually managed to exceed all expectations and were treating their staff worse than ever, which believe me took some amount of effort and were haemorrhaging staff.
BP at the time were moving into LNG and had somehow managed to land a management contract that they had considerable trouble fulfilling the manning experience stipulations and of course shell had a lot of LNG experience.
So enter the ex-shell personnel with the shell attitudes and easy access to office jobs ( though to be fair many were good lads but......) and so it came to pass that shell 'weirdness' started to appear in bp.
Thankfully they never quite managed to fully take over but to this day if you know what to look for you can see clammy fingerprints
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  #9  
Old 16th December 2015, 20:30
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Thanks for explaining that SM, as I did a runner in 86 that was all after my time.
From what I have since found out we had the happy times.
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  #10  
Old 16th December 2015, 21:48
JohnBP JohnBP is offline  
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I had a friend (since passed) who joined Shell (we both went to Stow College in Glasgow), we kept in touch, he hated Shell and eventually joined Clan Lines (happy).. I was always "proud" that I sailed with BP.. J
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  #11  
Old 16th December 2015, 22:01
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jep1916 View Post
Did you ever come across a John Barron. He was a C/E with P & O Trident and a C/E and Engineer Super with Brocklebank and was based in Calcutta in the early 60's.
Jep I do believe I met him somewhere along the way. Allowing for when he was in Cal and how much time Brocks spent in Cal it was probably there. Other than that at this distance details are a bit vague. Can't pull any real pearls out of the hat I regret to to say. It definitely was not with Trident.
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  #12  
Old 16th December 2015, 23:06
randcmackenzie randcmackenzie is offline  
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May I politely point out that neither BP nor Shell were shipping companies, they were oil companies who had ships - when it suited them - and their attitudes and approaches were totally different to those who owned and operated ships.
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  #13  
Old 17th December 2015, 08:16
david freeman david freeman is offline  
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politeness

Quote:
Originally Posted by randcmackenzie View Post
May I politely point out that neither BP nor Shell were shipping companies, they were oil companies who had ships - when it suited them - and their attitudes and approaches were totally different to those who owned and operated ships.
why be polite, in the 60's as a company segoing engineer we often, were asked to consider by the company to improve our commercial attitude and standards to those of lowland tankers- common brothers newcastle, the various charter companies that supplied ships to charter especially those of large companies offering services under 'flags of convenience'? nothing was sacred, it was a continual, fight of standards, and mind play.
Why stay, during my time (early 60's) as an eng cadet/apprentice in my phase iii seagoing period (remember BP did an alternate phase to most shipping companies!), the more senior engineers on the ships I served with had some words of wisdom: 1- complete the apprenticeship time- 2- if possible from that experience see if you could select/prefer sailing on a steam or motor tanker( make a conscious decision and see if the HQ could grant your wish)? then 3- do the ticket sea time for either steam or motor 2nd class in the shortest period- then 4- stay on the choice of ship steam and motor, and again do the shortest seatime possible for the C/E ticket, and then 5- complete, in the shortest period possible to do the endorsement time ( 6 months for motor or 9 months for steam) for the C/E ticket.
This seems rather simple, but behind this thinking was the deeper explanation?
Seriously consider sign on to become a company employee/contract, Why? They then said BP had a lifetime non contributory pension fund, and to qualify one had to complete 10 years, un broken service (Certain conditions and exceptions did apply). The ticket time from, a watch keeping to C/E with an endorsement certificate for either steam or motor,
The older engineers, and the younger ones had opinions and ones personal life? if married, had children, the choices of how one attained one future was or had to been balanced, against any career thoughts especially if one swallowed the anchor ( then in those days tanker companies paid well?) before, attaining the C/E ticket or sailing as a chief engineer.
Again if one was cynical the older C/E who were in there late 40's tended to like their 'POP' and have parties with the Old man ( Not all of them-) from Ushant outward bound until homeward bound, and go on the wagon on arrival at Ushant? then again another hazard was some or all could retire at 55 in the company pension scheme? if they survived past 60 that was a good day? and those in Shell on far east service- life was not much better?
One took ones chances and danced the devils tune? Life never has been easy.
For all this some of the happiest days were my days as a sea going engineer were with BP, and the experience it offered. I was and am greatfull for , which my start and training in the marine industry, which has stood me in good stead for my later working life. I am not perfect and have made mistakes like you all I am human, a grumpy old basterd when I reflect back on some of the personal comments made about me- while out of 'earshot'.

Last edited by david freeman; 17th December 2015 at 12:38.. Reason: additional info
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  #14  
Old 17th December 2015, 15:46
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Some interesting thoughts there on life at sea in the engineering department.
To a certain extent I was a casual observer to those goings on, just growing more cynical as the years went by.
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  #15  
Old 3rd June 2016, 06:59
Jim Glover Jim Glover is offline  
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I joined BP in 1970 for 1 year,came ashore for 3 months and joined Shell.Both companies very similar in the way they ran there ships .Only didfference was BP had electricians,and Shell had the 3rd Engineer assigned to that task.No regrets joining either company.
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  #16  
Old 4th June 2016, 12:07
janmike janmike is offline  
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January 1955 joined BTC as a deck apprentice eventually left as 2nd Mate in 1962 so lost out on the pension scheme!! Tried working ashore with BEA, slight argument so went and sailed with Shellmex BP. Extremely long working hours but so relaxed. Eventually had a few very varied jobs ashore one in the desert of Libya. The rest as industrial engineers.

Eventually went back to sea with Shell. The pay being a great incentive. But then the Engineering management took over and deck staff became 2nd class citizens. Time to leave hastened by an accident. Retired at 50 but had a partime job as an assitant harbourmaster in Torbay. The two companies in retrospect very similar. Noticed a great difference between Office staff conditions and sea staff!!!
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