Fri, 24 Nov 2023 15:00 UTC
© Modest Franco/Getty ImagesCrude oil spilling in Nigeria
More than 13,000 people in the West African nation can bring claims against the company, a UK court has ruled...British energy multinational Shell can be sued by thousands of Nigerians for oil spills, the High Court in London has ruled.Earlier this year, more than 13,000 farmers and fishers from the Ogale and Bille communities in Nigeria filed claims against the oil major, seeking compensation for infringing their right to a clean environment under the Nigerian constitution.
Law firm Leigh Day, representing the plaintiffs, said on Thursday:
"If the case succeeds at trial, it will be the first time in legal history that a UK multinational will have been found to have breached a communities' right to a clean environment. Importantly, such claims have no limitation period, meaning Shell would not be able to evade liability on the grounds the communities did not bring their claims within a narrow time frame."
The court ruling was made public on Wednesday, in a case that has been ongoing for eight years.
Explaining the ruling, the court judge said:
"I am not going to strike out the claims" due to "the catastrophically environmentally damaging oil pollution in the Niger Delta."
Shell has denied culpability for oil spills in Nigeria.
In a statement carried by Bloomberg, Shell stated:
"Oil is being stolen on an industrial scale in the Niger Delta... This criminality is a major source of pollution and is the cause of the majority of spills in the Bille and Ogale claims."
In February, Shell was accused of causing devastating spills by Nigerian residents of the Ogale and Bille communities. 11,317 people and 17 institutions (including churches and schools) from Ogale and 2,335 individual from Bille are seeking compensation
for the loss of income and environmental damage caused by the oil giant.
The British corporation has won numerous oil spill cases in Nigeria since the 1990s. In May, Shell won a similar case after the UK Supreme Court ruled that Nigerian plaintiffs had run out of time to sue two of the British oil company's subsidiaries for an offshore spill in 2011.
Comment: Angola and Nigerian
requests to up oil production denied:
Two African members of the OPEC+ group of oil-producing countries, Angola and Nigeria, have defied the organization's plans to cut output and demanded that their production quotas be raised.
An ensuing dispute forced OPEC+ member states to postpone a scheduled meeting at which they were expected to discuss further output cuts, a development that sent oil prices sliding. Both benchmarks, WTI and Brent, dropped dramatically on Wednesday after the meeting was delayed. As of Friday, WTI was trading at around $76.8 per barrel and Brent at roughly $81.8 per barrel.
Angola and Nigeria are each aiming for higher oil outputs, with Angola's OPEC+ governor Estevao Pedro saying that his country was "fighting" to increase production.
In recent years, the two countries were failing to meet their quotas and at OPEC+'s last meeting, in June, they were given lower production targets as part of the bloc's broad deal to limit supply into 2024.
However, the African countries now reportedly want to have their production quotas raised from those agreed levels. According to Angola's OPEC+ representative, investment was now "being made" to enable the country to raise its oil output.
The OPEC+ meeting about next year's production policy will now take place next Thursday. Several analysts polled by the news agency have predicted that the group will most likely extend or even deepen oil-supply cuts into next year.
OPEC+ members, including major producers Saudi Arabia and Russia, have pledged to cut their oil output, in a series of steps that started in late 2022. This was done in order to stabilize the global oil market, which had a volatile year due to sanctions against major oil producer Russia, and to support crude prices.