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Some 14,000 Nigerians sue Europe's largest oil company over spills

The undated file photo shows environmental destruction due to Shell operations in Nigeria.

Nearly 14,000 Nigerians from the oil-producing Niger Delta have filed a compensation claim against Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, at the London High Court over the loss of livelihoods and environmental destruction. 

In a statement released on Thursday, the UK law firm Leigh Day said it had filed claims on behalf of 11,317 people and 17 institutions including churches and schools from Ogale community in Niger Delta. It said the claim from Ogale adds to one brought by members of the Bille community in 2015. That brings the total number of villagers seeking compensation from Shell to 13,652.

“The next stage in the case is for a case management hearing to be set in Spring 2023, ahead of the full trial which is likely to occur the following year,” the statement read.

The claims say oil spills resulting from Shell's operations in the Niger Delta have destroyed farms, and contaminated drinking water.

In 2021, the UK Supreme Court allowed a group of 42,500 Nigerian farmers and fishermen to sue Shell at British courts after years of oil spills had contaminated land and groundwater. The judges said at the time there was an arguable case that Shell was responsible because it exercised significant control over its Nigeria subsidiary SPDC.

Shell profits double to record $40 billion in 2022

Shell made a record profit of virtually $40 billion in 2022, more than double what it raked in the previous year after oil and gas prices soared following the war in Ukraine. The company by revenue reported adjusted full-year earnings of $39.9 billion on Thursday — more than double the $19.3 billion it posted in 2021. The company’s stock was up 2.6% in London at midday.



Only over 40% of Shell’s full-year earnings came from its integrated gas business, which includes liquefied natural gas trading operations. The unit was responsible for almost two thirds of Shell’s $9.8-billion profit in the final three months of the year. The company drew criticism from climate activists on Thursday for not moving quickly enough. “Shell can’t claim to be in transition as long as investments in fossil fuels dwarf investments in renewables,” Mark van Baal, founder of shareholder activist group Follow This, said in a statement. “The bulk of Shell’s investments remain tied to fossil fuel businesses because the company doesn’t have a target to slash its total CO2 emissions this decade.”

The Ukraine war has led to tighter gas supplies, higher prices, and an uncertain outlook over the past months.

Some of the biggest oil and gas service companies from Western countries have continued to make millions of dollars from operations in Myanmar that have helped prop up the country's military regime. A report published in the Guardian on Wednesday said leaked Myanmar tax records showed that oil and gas field contractors from the United States, Britain and Ireland continued to make millions in profit in Myanmar after the military coup in February 2021.


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