Shell to pay $111m over decades-old oil spills in Nigeria

Company maintains oil spills in 1970 were caused by third parties during civil war

Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to pay around €95m (£80.4m/$111.6m) to communities in southern Nigeria over crude oil spills in 1970, lawyers involved in the case have said.

The decision is the latest involving Opec-member Nigeria’s oil-producing south where communities have long fought legal battles over oil spills and environmental damage.

“The order for the payment of [$111m] to the claimants is for full and final satisfaction of the judgement,” a local spokesman for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria said on Wednesday.

Lucius Nwosa, a lawyer representing the Ejama-Ebubu community in Rivers state, confirmed the decision.

“They ran out of tricks and decided to come to terms,” the lawyer said. “The decision is a vindication of the resoluteness of the community for justice.”

The company said it maintained the spills were caused by third parties during Nigeria’s 1967-70 civil war when much damage was done to oil pipelines and infrastructure.

“It is a confirmation of the issues we have raised about Shell’s environmental devastation of Ogoni and the need for a proper remediation of the land,” the MOSOP organisation for the local Ogoni people said in response.

After a 13-year legal battle, a Dutch court in January this year ordered Shell to compensate Nigerian farmers for spills that polluted much of their land in the Niger Delta.

The court ordered Shell to compensate three out of four farmers who lodged the case in 2008. The case has dragged on so long that two of the Nigerian farmers have died since it was first filed.

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