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2 Mar 2016

Sarah Kent, Wall Street Journal (USA)

Nigerian Communities Can Sue Royal Dutch Shell Over Oil Spills, U.K. Court Says

Two Nigerian communities can sue Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s Nigerian unit in the U.K. over oil spills in the West African country, a London court ruled Wednesday, testing whether energy companies can be held liable in their home country for events elsewhere. The lawsuits…are the latest international litigation to face Shell for environmental damage stemming from its Nigerian operations…The firm’s local subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited…has been plagued by frequent spills that environmental groups and nongovernmental organizations say have destroyed Niger Delta fishing grounds and polluted water systems…Shell says the spills are primarily caused by oil thieves who sabotage pipelines…A spokesperson for SPDC said in an email Wednesday that the cases should be tried in Nigeria and that it would challenge the jurisdiction of English courts.