Group drags Shell to London court over 2011 Nigeria Bonga oil spill

epa05113059 (FILE) A file photo dated 30 July 2015 showing a company flag flying infront of the head office of Royal Dutch Shell in The Hague, The Netherlands. Royal Dutch Shell plc on 20 January 2016 reported a sharp fall in profits for the last quarter of 2015 as low oil prices hit earnings and the company restructured to reduce costs. Shell said it expected fourth-quarter earnings to be between 1.6 billion and 1.9 billion dollars, down from 4.2 billion dollars in the fourth quarter of 2014. Full-year earnings, including the impact of lower prices on the company's oil inventory, are expected to total 10.4 billion to 10.7 billion dollars, about 45 per cent lower than the 19 billion dollars reported in 2014.  EPA/JERRY LAMPEN [Photo Credit: Financial Times]
epa05113059 (FILE) A file photo dated 30 July 2015 showing a company flag flying infront of the head office of Royal Dutch Shell in The Hague, The Netherlands. Royal Dutch Shell plc on 20 January 2016 reported a sharp fall in profits for the last quarter of 2015 as low oil prices hit earnings and the company restructured to reduce costs. Shell said it expected fourth-quarter earnings to be between 1.6 billion and 1.9 billion dollars, down from 4.2 billion dollars in the fourth quarter of 2014. Full-year earnings, including the impact of lower prices on the company's oil inventory, are expected to total 10.4 billion to 10.7 billion dollars, about 45 per cent lower than the 19 billion dollars reported in 2014. EPA/JERRY LAMPEN [Photo Credit: Financial Times]

A Non-Governmental Organisation has filed a suit in a London court against Shell Nigeria Exploration & Production Company, SNEPCO, over a 2011 oil spill in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.

The NGO, the Oil Spills Victims Vanguard, filed the case on September 21 at the TTC High Court of Justice, London, on behalf of the victims of the Bonga oil spill.

The spill, said to have been caused by an operational error on the part of SNEPCO, had about 40,000 barrels of crude oil discharged into the Atlantic Ocean, and affected at least 350 communities in Delta and Bayelsa states.

“The pollution from this discharge which covered a distance of 185 killometres along the Nigeria coastline compelled fishermen to desert the sea and the polluted farmlands,” the NGO said.

 

About 168,000 people were said to have been affected directly by the spill.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which is a parent company to SNEPCO, is joined as a co-defendant in the case.

Harrison Jalla, the Executive Director of the Oil Spills Victims Vanguard, is the lead plaintiff in the case.

Mr. Jalla, in a press statement, said SNEPCO has “completely refused” to pay the $5 billion fine imposed on it by the Nigerian government.

Mr. Jalla said his NGO wants to use the court case to compel Shell to pay compensation to the victims and the affected communities, as well as clean up the environment.

The NGO, represented by the law firm, Johnson and Steller, Mayfair, London, is asking for a preliminary court order that would compel Shell to tender reports and all other documents related to the Bonga oil spill.

No date has been fixed yet for the hearing.

PREMIUM TIMES couldn’t immediately reach Shell for its comment.

The oil company in the past denied any wrongdoing, claiming that it responded to the oil spill “with professionalism and acted with the consent of the necessary authorities at all times to prevent environmental impact as a result of the incident,” according to a report published by Reuters.

The Nigerian government was said to have filed a similar suit in 2016 against Shell at a federal high court, Abuja, demanding N1.3 trillion as compensation on behalf of the victims and communities affected by the Bonga oil spill.


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