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Shell Wins Oil Spill Court Case Against Nigeria

Shell has won a court ruling that blocks the enforcement of more than a half a billion dollars for damages against the oil supermajor in a decade-old oil spill case in Nigeria, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.  

A Nigerian court ruled back in 2010 that Shell was liable for an oil spill in the Ejama-Ebubu community in 2001, and awarded the sum plus interest to the community.

Shell, which has fought several lawsuits over oil spills in the Niger Delta in the 1990s and early 2000s, has also sought to have the cases transferred to Nigerian courts instead of in UK courts.

The Ejama-Ebubu community, however, had the award claim registered in London, which could have potentially meant that UK courts could enforce the award against Shell.

But UK judge Jason Coppel set aside the registration on Thursday, thus preventing UK courts from enforcing the award.

A lawyer for the Nigerian community told Bloomberg they would appeal today’s UK court decision, while a Shell spokesman said that the supermajor continues to believe that “no payment was due” in the case that is still being tried in Nigerian courts.

Shell and its Nigerian unit have also been dragged through the courts over the supermajor’s alleged complicity in abuses of human rights in Nigeria’s military suppressing protests in the oil-rich Niger Delta in the 1990s, especially in the Ogoniland area. 

In early 2018, the UK Court of Appeal ruled that Nigerian communities cannot pursue Shell in UK courts over oil spills in the oil-rich Niger Delta, upholding a previous High Court ruling that UK-based multinational companies cannot be tried in England for the actions of their subsidiaries overseas.

The Nigerian villagers claim that they have been severely affected by years of oil pollution from pipelines owned by Shell and that both the London-based parent company, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, and its Nigerian subsidiary SPDC are responsible for the pollution. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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