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UK Court Says Nigerian Farmers Can Sue Shell for Environmental Damages

The UK’s Supreme Court has ruled that Nigerian farmers and fishermen can sue Royal Dutch Shell PLC in English courts over pollution caused from the supermajors oil and gas operations in their region. The court said Shell has a “duty of care” to the claimants.

Shell subsidiaries have been sued over the years, due to environmental contamination across its Nigerian operations, negatively impacting the livelihoods of the citizens in the communities it operates.

In January, the company completed the sale of a 30% stake in Nigeria’s OML 17 to a local company for $533 million. Shell says it is currently reviewing further asset sales in Nigeria.

CEO Ben van Beurden, said Shell was reviewing “positions that continue to be challenged from an environmental perspective. A particular point of attention is onshore oil in Nigeria.”

“Unfortunately, our remaining onshore oil position continues to be subject to sabotage and theft despite our efforts to reduce and respond to this illegal activity,” he said. “In this context, we are reviewing material portfolio options for onshore oil.”

Van Beurden did however stress the company’s commitment to Nigeria. “You can see this from our decision to expand Nigeria LNG and our drive to further develop our deepwater assets.”

Shell has also made a commitment to end flaring by 2030.