Shell to Pay $111-Million to Nigeria Over Decades-Old Oil Spill

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Lingering effects of the 1970 Shell crude oil spill in Nigeria. Image sourced from Frankfurter Rundschau.

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to pay $111.6-million to communities in southern Nigeria over a crude oil spill that occurred in 1970, according to The Guardian.

This decision is one of the latest involving Nigeria’s oil-producing south, where communities have long fought battles over the environmental degradation and damages caused by oil spills in the region.

After a 13-year-long legal battle, finally, a Dutch court in January ordered Shell to compensate communities in Nigeria’s Niger Delta for the spills that polluted and left much of the region’s land befouled.

The court ordered the oil titan to compensate three out of the four local farmers that lodged the case in 2008. The case took so long to find a conclusion that two of the plaintiffs had died since the case was brought to court.

“The order for the payment of [$111-million] to the claimants is for full and final satisfaction of the judgement,” a local spokesperson for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria said on Wednesday.

This decision was further confirmed by Lucius Nwosa, a lawyer representing the Ejama-Ebubu community in Rivers state.

“They ran out of tricks and decided to come to terms,” Nwosa said. “The decision is a vindication of the resoluteness of the community for justice.”

Shell continued to maintain that the spills were caused by third parties during the Biafran War in Nigeria between 1967 – 1970 when significant damage was incurred to the West African country’s oil pipelines and infrastructure.

“It is a confirmation of the issues we have raised about Shell’s environmental devastation of Ogoni and the need for a proper remediation of the land,” the MOSOP organisation for the local Ogoni people said in response.

While the settlement may prove to be a relief to the affected communities, pollution from leaking oil pipelines continues to be a major environmental issue in the Niger Delta. In a separate case launched earlier this year, a Dutch appeals court ruled that Shell’s Nigerian branch was responsible for damages caused by leaks in the region from 2004 to 2007.


By Luis Monzon
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