Two communities in Nigeria’s oil-rich Rivers State, have hauled global oil giant, Shell, to a London court over oil spills in the Niger Delta.
The Ogale community is claiming compensation for oil spillage and want their polluted land cleaned up by Shell.
The Ogale community in Rivers State, lies on Nigeria’s coast with a population of some 40,000 people, majority of them are farmers or fishermen.
Both Bille and Ogale are areas heavily impacted by crude oil theft, pipeline sabotage and illegal refining which remain the main sources of pollution across the Niger Delta
Their claims as filed by their solicitors, Leigh Day; assert that, spills since 1989 have meant they have been denied clean drinking water, farmland or rivers.
Shell is sued over Nigeria oil spills https://t.co/32pDnXsu3b— BBC Africa (@BBCAfrica) March 1, 2016
It cites a November 2015 report by Amnesty International which states that contrary to claims by Shell that it had cleaned up the Niger Delta, there were four spill sites that were still contaminated.
The Bille community on the otherhand comprises mainly fishermen, they claim Shell should be liable for “failing to protect their pipelines from damage caused by third parties,” according to Leigh Day.
Shell on their part said the case was at an “early stage,” they were assessing the claims and wanted the case to be heard in Nigeria.
The company says it has agreed a clean up plan, “In mid-2015 SPDC JV, along with the government, UNEP and representatives of the Ogoni community, agreed to an 18-month roadmap to fast-track the environmental clean-up and remediation of Ogoniland which includes a governance framework,” the Shell statement said.
Shell fights back
Shell further asserts that crude oil theft by persons who want to refine the oil locally has resulted in more spills and damage through explosions and attacks on pipelines.
“Both Bille and Ogale are areas heavily impacted by crude oil theft, pipeline sabotage and illegal refining which remain the main sources of pollution across the Niger Delta.
“Ogale is in Ogoniland and it is important to note that SPDC has produced no oil or gas in Ogoniland since 1993. Access to the area has been limited following a rise in violence, threats to staff and attacks on facilities,” Shell said.