Shell Abandons Bid for Oil Spill Case To Be Heard In Nigeria

Oil giant Shell has abandoned its argument that the oil pollution lawsuit filed against it by the Ogale and Bille communities in Rivers state, be heard in Nigeria rather than the UK. The communities are pursuing legal claims against Shell in the UK, saying "there is no hope of justice in the Nigerian courts."

The decision follows on the heels of two recently lost lawsuits for Shell. In January 2021, a Dutch court ordered Shell to pay compensation to residents living at the operational base where oil spills occurred and that had caused widespread pollution of the land. The U.K. Supreme Court said in a landmark ruling in February 2021 that Shell's parent company could be sued in English courts for the actions of its Nigerian subsidiary. The court however left the door open for Shell to argue that it was more appropriate to leave any action against the local unit to Nigerian courts. By including the subsidiary in the U.K. proceedings, more documents about Shell's work in Nigeria are likely to be made public.

The multinational recently announced that its pulling out of Nigeria and will offload the last of its Nigerian assets in a move to rein-in risks that include sabotage, theft and litigation from host communities - committing its future to cleaner energy and offshore production elsewhere. The Nigeria government is encouraging Shell to keep its onshore oil and gas business in Nigeria, instead of divesting.

InFocus

Oil spill in Boda Creek (file photo).

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