Shell sued in London High Court over Nigerian oil spill

A group of 11,000 Nigerians from 35 villages have sued Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell in a British court claiming tens of millions of dollars in compensation over two oil spills in 2008 and 2009.

The lawsuit, filed on 23 March at the High Court in London on behalf of 35 villages around Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta, alleges that the London-based oil company allowed 560,000 barrels of oil to spill in 2008 and that Shell was too slow to respond, resulting in destruction of the environment and robbing them of their livelihoods.

Although Shell has admitted responsibility for the spill, the company disagrees on how much oil was spilled. Shell claims that both the oil spill in 2008 were not more than 4,000 barrels, and is also disputing on how much compensation should be paid.

Since most of the oil pipes criss-cross villages, Shell also claims that local people were responsible for a major part of the oil spill because of sabotage and oil theft.

The two oil spills devastated 90km of land, mangroves, creeks and streams and coastline. The impact of the spill is similar to that of British oil giant's Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Leigh Day & Co, the law firm representing the Bodo fishing community that was affected by the oil spill, said his clients will claim  millions of dollars as compensation.