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30 Jan 2013

Guy Chazan, Financial Times

Shell ordered to pay Niger Delta farmer

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A Dutch court ruled…that a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell was partly responsible for oil pollution in the Niger Delta, but said the company was not liable for four of the five charges brought against it…Shell welcomed the verdict, but Friends of the Earth, the pressure group that brought the charges, expressed disappointment and said it would appeal…Other groups hailed the ruling as a victory…The court established that the spills were caused by sabotage, not poor maintenance on the part of Shell. Regarding the 2004 spill near Goi and the 2005 spill near Oruma, Shell Nigeria had taken “sufficient precautions” to prevent sabotage…and was therefore not liable for damage claimed by the farmers. But in the case of two spills near Ikot Ada Udo, it ruled that Shell’s local subsidiary, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) had violated its duty of care and should be held liable for negligence…Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director of SPDC, said: “We welcome the court’s ruling that all spill cases were caused by criminal activity.”