May 11, 2023

Nigerians Loose Oil Spill Case Against Shell

The Supreme Court in London, England has ruled against nearly 30 000 Nigerians who attempted to sue two subsidiaries of oil giant, Shell, for an oil spill.

On Wednesday, 10 May, the court ruled that it was too late for people from the Niger Delta to lodge pollution claims over an oil spill that happened off their coast on 20 December, 2011.

The ruling reinforced two smaller courts’ rulings, which had previously found the plaintiffs had lodged their case after the six-year legal expiry date.

According to reports, roughly 40 000 barrels worth of crude oil leaked from a tanker during a transfer from Shell’s Bonga Field oil rig to a nearby ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

Lawyers representing the Niger Delta group claim that the spill has polluted their land and waterways, damaging farming, fishing, drinking water and religious shrines.

However, lawyers representing the mega-company have claimed that the incident was swiftly contained, with the remaining oil having dispersed in the water before it reached the shore.

The plaintiffs attempted to argue that the “continuing nuisance” of the oil spill upon the land and surrounding waters would prove to be an exception to the expiry date rule. However, the panel of five Supreme Court justices unanimously rejected the proposal, allegedly without looking at evidence supporting either side’s assertions.

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