As Dutch Court rules firm is responsible for leaks in the region
By Udeme Akpan, Energy Editor
Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited, an International Oil Company, IOC, has insisted that most oil spill incidents in the Niger Delta are caused by Sabotage, oil theft, and illegal refining.
Reacting to the latest ruling by a Dutch appeals court, which ruled that it is responsible for damage caused by leaks in the region, the company said, it was disappointed.
In a statement obtained by Vanguard, the company, stated: “We continue to believe that the spills in Oruma and Goi were the result of sabotage. We are therefore disappointed that this court has made a different finding on the cause of these spills and in its finding that SPDC is liable.
“Sabotage, crude oil theft, and illegal refining are a major challenge in the Niger Delta. Indeed in 2019 around 95% of spill incidents from our operations, there were due to such criminal acts. Regardless of the cause, we clean up and remediate, as we have done with the spills in this case. SPDC also works with a range of stakeholders to find solutions to these complex issues. Like all Shell-operated ventures globally, we are committed to operating safely and protecting the local environment.”
However, while delivering its judgment, the court ordered Shell Nigeria to pay compensation to Nigerian farmers, while the subsidiary and its Anglo-Dutch parent company were told to install equipment to prevent future damage.
The case dates back to 2008 when a group of farmers had headed to the court in 2008, attributing widespread pollution in the region to Shell.
But in its judgment, the court said Shell had not proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” that saboteurs were responsible for the leaks affecting the villages of Goi and Oruma, rather than poor maintenance.
Specifically, it stated: “This makes Shell Nigeria responsible for the damage caused by the leaks” in these areas, it said. It added that the amount of compensation would be “determined at a later stage”.
The four farmers – Barizaa Dooh, Elder Friday Alfred Akpan, Chief Fidelis A Oguru, and Alali Efanga – had taken the case to court had argued that the leaks from underground oil pipelines had impacted negatively on them.