Amsterdam, The Netherlands — 11 October 2012 – Oil major Royal Dutch Shell plc is defending its environmental record in the Niger Delta as it faces a lawsuit that may set a precedent for damage claims related to the activities of international companies.
Reuters reports that the case, filed in a local court in The Hague where Shell has its joint global headquarters, seeks to make Shell and other corporations responsible for pollution resulting from three oil spills in 2004, 2005 and 2007 in Africa’s top energy producer.
Plaintiffs are four Nigerians and campaigning group Friends of the Earth.
The four, who are fishermen and farmers, are seeking unspecified compensation and argue they can no longer feed their families because the area has been polluted with oil from Shell’s pipelines and production facilities.
Shell says the pollution was caused by oil thieves and that it has played its part in cleaning up.
“The real tragedy of the Niger Delta is the widespread and continual criminal activity, including sabotage, theft and illegal refining, that causes the vast majority of oil spills,” the group said in a statement.
Friends of the Earth said it hoped the case “’ set to last a day during which attorneys for both sides would present arguments before the judges retired to give their verdicts next year “’ would set a precedent and lead to an end to the corporate crimes committed by oil giants like Shell in Nigeria and around the world.”
With around 31 million inhabitants, the Niger Delta, which includes the Ogoniland region, is one of the top 10 wetland and coastal marine ecosystems in the world and is a main source of food for the poor, rural population.
Source: Reuters Africa. For more information, click here.