Multinational oil giant, Shell, may finally be held liable for the degradation of the Niger Delta caused by decades of its negligent oil exploration activities if the Dutch Appeal Court rule in favour of respondents in a judgement expected to be made on Friday.
The company may also be made to release previously withheld documents showing it failed to stop and clean oil pollution in the case which is first of its kind.
Amnesty International said in a statement that allowing the respondents access to internally held documents would reveal the extent of the damage done to communities by oil spills which still continues at a rate of 100 per day.
The organisation also stated that the documents would also show shell had knowledge that its pipes were rusty and faulty.
The case, brought by environment group, Friends of the Earth, on behalf of four Niger Delta farmers, will also make it possible for those whose means of livelihood was destroyed by oil pollution to seek compensation from Shell.
“This case is especially important as it could pave the way for further cases from other communities devastated by Shell’s negligence. It is vital that multinationals are made to answer for action abroad that would never be accepted in their home countries,” said Amnesty International researcher, Mark Dummett.
“There have been thousands of spills from Shell’s pipelines since the company started pumping oil in the Niger Delta in 1958, with devastating consequences for the people living there. They have heard endless false promises from Shell. Our research shows that even when Shell says it has cleaned up land, there are visible signs of the oil pollution that scars the land and destroys the economic prospects of a community that depends on farming and fishing.”
The United Nations says it would cost $1 billion in five years to clean Ogoni land alone, which is just one area of Shell’s operation.