British lawyers representing more than 11,000 Nigerians said negotiation had failed and litigation was the “only option”. An initial hearing is expected at the High Court in London this coming April. The High Court case marks the first time Shell has faced claims in the UK from the developing world for environmental damage
And yesterday Shell said that it wanted a “speedy resolution” to a compensation dispute with farmers and fishermen after oil spills in Nigeria. Shell claims the dispute concerns two “operational oil spills totalling an estimated 4,000 barrels” in 2009 from Shell Petroleum Company of Nigeria facilities at Bodo, Nigeria.
Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director for Shell, said “we want a speedy resolution of this dispute so we can pay fair compensation.”
The claims are the latest attempt by residents from the oil-rich Delta to seek restitution from foreign oil companies. Royal Dutch Shell, has tried to reduce its onshore Nigeria presence in recent years by selling off some fields.
The suit calls for compensation totaling 121 billion naira ($767 million) to assuage the plaintiffs’ hurt. The plaintiffs also want Shell to carry out the recommendations of last year’s U.N. report, which suggests a nine point cleanup plan for the affected site. Shell has accepted responsibility for the spillage of about 4,000 barrels in Ogoniland in the Niger Delta.
When Shell accepted responsibility for the oil spills, which happened in 2008 and one which continued into 2009, Shell promised it would pay compensation according to Nigerian law and would clean up the oil and restore the land.
Last year, a UN environmental assessment of Ogoniland said the region would take 30 years to recover fully from the damage caused by years of oil spills, the report was funded by Shell. According to the 2011 report by the U.N. Environment Program, some 19,000 square meters of land is contaminated by oil and oily residue.
Martyn Day, the lawyer representing the claimants. "We are now left with the only option of taking the claims through the U.K. Courts to obtain justice for the people of Bodo."