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Nigeria: Shell Nigeria must compensate farmers for oil leak pollution & Royal Dutch Shell to install leak detection system, orders Dutch Appeal Court

"Dutch court orders Shell to pay Nigerian farmers over oil spills", 29 January 2021

... The Court of Appeal in The Hague on Friday ruled that the Nigerian arm of the British-Dutch company must issue payouts over a long-running civil case involving four Nigerian farmers who were seeking compensation, and a clean-up, from the company over pollution caused by leaking oil pipelines.

It held Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary liable for two leaks that spewed oil over an area of a total of about 60 football pitches in two villages, saying that it could not be established “beyond a reasonable doubt” that saboteurs were to blame.

The Hague appeals court ruled that sabotage was to blame for an oil leak in another village; however, it said that the issue of whether Shell can be held liable “remains open” and the case will be continued as the court wants clarification about the extent of the pollution and whether it still has to be cleaned up.

Under Nigerian law, which was applied in the Dutch civil case, the company is not liable if the leaks were the result of sabotage.

“Shell Nigeria is sentenced to compensate farmers for damages,” the court said in its ruling, which can be appealed via the Dutch Supreme Court.

... The court did not hold Shell’s parent company, which is headquartered in the Netherlands, directly responsible.

However, it ruled that Shell’s parent company and its Nigerian subsidiary must fit a leak-detection system to a pipeline that caused one of the spills.

... Shell said in a statement following the ruling that it continues to believe the spills were caused by sabotage, adding it was dismayed that the firm’s Nigerian subsidy – the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) – was judged to be culpable.

“We are … disappointed that this court has made a different finding on the cause of these spills and in its finding that SPDC is liable,” the company said.

The Nigerian subsidiary added: “Like all Shell-operated ventures globally, we are committed to operating safely and protecting the local environment.”

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