On Friday. 29th of January, 2021, the Court of Appeal in The Hague ruled that Royal Dutch Shell Nigerian subsidiary, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), was at fault for environmental degradation caused by pipeline leaks in the villages of Oruma and Goi in the Niger Delta region and ordered the subsidiary to compensate the farmers for the losses caused by the oil spills in the two villages in 2004 and 2005. However, the amount of compensation had not yet been decided.
The Hague Court of Appeal has finally ruled in favor of Milieudefensie / Friends of the Earth Netherlands and four Nigerians on the oil pollution case brought against Shell Nigeria 13 years ago.
The court further ruled that the parent company, Royal Dutch Shell, and its subsidiary must also install a leak detection system to one pipeline to prevent further spills and limit the environmental damage.
The court is still considering whether to hold Shell responsible for spillage in a third village, which was caused by sabotage.
“This is fantastic news for the environment and people living in developing countries,” said Friends of the Earth’s Netherlands head, Donald Pols.
“Finally, there is some justice for the Nigerian people suffering the consequences of Shell’s oil,” Eric Dooh, one of the Nigerian plaintiffs, said in a statement after the verdict.
“Three of the four Nigerian plaintiffs and their fellow villagers must now be compensated for the damage caused and Shell must ensure that there is a leakage detection system in the pipelines in Nigeria,” Friends of the Earth, the environmental organization that sued Shell, said in a statement. “It is the first time that a court has held Dutch transnational corporation accountable for its duty of care abroad.”
However, Shell Nigeria still stands by its initial argument that the spills were caused by sabotage and was disappointed by the ruling. “Sabotage, crude oil theft, and illegal refining are a major challenge in the Niger delta,” it said. “Like all Shell-operated ventures globally, we are committed to operating safely and protecting the local environment.”