October 11, 2012
The Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell has rejected claims by four Nigerian farmers that it should pay compensation for damage to their land.
The farmers are suing the company in a civil court in The Hague, claiming oil spills ruined their livelihoods. Shell‘s lawyers told the court it could not be held liable because most spills were caused by criminal damage.
They said repairs were hard to carry out because of insecurity in the Niger Delta. Shell lawyer Jan de Bie Leuveling Tjeenk told the court that sabotage and oil theft were widespread in the region.
The case is being brought against Shell by the farmers and the Dutch arm of the environmental group Friends of the Earth. It is the first time a Dutch multinational has been taken to a civil court in the Netherlands in connection with damage caused abroad. The case is linked to spills in Goi, Ogoniland; Oruma in Bayelsa State and a third in Ikot Ada Udo, Akwa Ibom State.
Earlier, Channa Samkalden, lawyer for the Nigerians, told the court that Shell had failed to maintain its pipelines, clean up leaks and prevent pollution. “Shell knew for a long time that the pipeline was damaged but didn’t do anything. They could have stopped the leaks,” she said. Judges are now considering the evidence and a ruling is expected early next year…Read more.