Multinational oil company, Shell said on Friday that it has agreed to pay 15 million Euros to farmers in Ogoni communities of Nigeria’s oil rich Niger Delta as compensation over the damages in a case instituted over 13 years ago.
The compensation was in line with the ruling of Dutch Appeal court of Friday 29 January which mandated Royal Dutch Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary to compensate the villages in Ogoniland over leakeages from its oil pipelines.
Four Nigerian farmers, with the support of environmental group, Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) had dragged Shell to court claiming compensation from the company for damages from pipeline leaks Oruma and Goi and a well leak in the village of Ikot Ada Udo, all in Ogoniland, Rivers State between 2004-2007.
The plaintiffs also demanded that Shell should embark on the clean up and also put in place measure to prevent further oil spills.
But Shell denied liability, blaming the spills on sabotage and claiming that the clean up has been carried out satisfactorily in the legal battle first filed in 2018.
But the court ruled that Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary was responsible for multiple cases of oil pollution and liable for the damage resulting from the oil leaks.
The company said on Friday that based on the court ruling, it has reached an agreement Milieudefensie to pay 15 million euros to the affected communities.
“Under the settlement, The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) as operator of the SPDC joint venture, will pay an amount of EUR 15 million for the benefit of the communities and the individual claimants,” it said in a statement.
It also confirmed the installation of a leak detection system on 20 pipeline segments in accordance with the Dutch court ruling and that remediation work has been completed.
However, the oil firm said the deal for the payout “is on a no admission of liability basis, and settles all claims and ends all pending litigation related to the spills”.
In a statement on Friday in Benin by Mr Philip Jakpor, Media Head, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), described the historic victory at the courts and the acceptance of Shell to pay the compensation as a victory for all.
akpor also confirmed that the company had also agreed to install a leak detection system to prevent future oil spills.
Chima Williams, a counsel in the case and the Executive Director, ERA/FoEN, said the resilience of the farmers and the communities was a model that would galvanise other impacted communities in the region and elsewhere.
“Justice may have been delayed but it has now been served. The resilience of the farmers, their communities and determination to make Shell pay is a model that will galvanise other impacted communities in the Niger Delta and elsewhere to act and stay on course.
“Shell’s acceptance to pay compensation and install leak detection system is both unprecedented and signals victory for all parties – the victims, environmental justice campaigners and Shell.