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Nigerians win UK court OK to sue Shell over oil spills

February 16/2021

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The UK Supreme Court on Friday allowed a group of 42,500 Nigerian farmers and fishermen to sue Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) in English courts after years of oil spills in the Niger Delta contaminated land and groundwater, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Senior judges said UK-domiciled Shell, one of the world's biggest energy companies, did have a common law duty of care, in the latest case to test whether multinationals can be held to account for the acts of overseas subsidiaries. The ruling comes almost two years after a seminal ruling by the Supreme Court in a case involving mining company Vedanta. The judgment allowed nearly 2,000 Zambian villagers to sue Vedanta in England for alleged pollution in Africa.

That move was seen as a victory for rural communities seeking to hold parent companies accountable for environmental disasters. Vedanta ultimately settled out of court in January. Nigeria's Ogale and Bille communities allege their lives and health have suffered because repeated oil spills have contaminated the land, swamps, groundwater and waterways and that there has been no adequate cleaning or remediation.

Represented by law firm Leigh Day, they argued that Shell owed them a duty of care because it either had significant control of, and was responsible for, its subsidiary SPDC. Shell countered that the court had no jurisdiction to try the claims.

SPDC is the operator of oil pipelines in a joint venture between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation which holds a 55% stake, Shell which holds 30%, France's Total with 10%, Italy's Eni with 5%. A Shell spokesman said the decision was disappointing.

Shell has blamed sabotage for oil spills. It said in its annual report published last March that SPDC, which produces around 1 million barrels of oil per day, saw crude oil spills caused by theft or pipeline sabotage surge by 41% in 2019. Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said last week that the firm would take "another hard look at its onshore oil operations" in the west African country.

The ruling is the second judgement against Shell this year regarding claims against its Nigerian operations. In a landmark Dutch ruling two weeks ago, an appeals court held Shell responsible for multiple oil pipeline leaks in the Niger Delta and ordered it to pay unspecified damages to farmers, in a victory for environmentalists.

Leigh Day said that the amount of compensation sought would be quantified as the case enters the trial stage. In 2015, Shell agreed to pay out 55 million pounds ($83.4 million) to the Bodo community in Nigeria in compensation for two oil spills, which was the largest ever out-of-court settlement relating to Nigerian oil spills.

As MRC wrote previously, Shell expects its oil production to decrease by 1%-2% annually as it prioritizes spending on transition projects in an acceleration of its strategy to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

We remind that Royal Dutch Shell has reported an outage at its olefins plant in Deer Park, Texas, USA, on 5 January, 2021. The plant flared for 16 hours following unspecified process upset. Maximum steam cracker operating rate in Texas falls to 89%.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,220,640 tonnes in 2020, up by 2% year on year. Only shipments of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) increased. At the same time, polypropylene (PP) shipments to the Russian market reached 1 240,000 tonnes in 2020 (calculated using the formula: production, minus exports, plus imports, excluding producers' inventories as of 1 January, 2020).

Royal Dutch Shell plc is an Anglo-Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the biggest company in the world in terms of revenue and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors". Shell is vertically integrated and is active in every area of the oil and gas industry, including exploration and production, refining, distribution and marketing, petrochemicals, power generation and trading.


mrcplast.com
Author:Anna Larionova
Tags:petroleum products, crude oil, PP, PE, neftegaz, petrochemistry, Shell.
Category:General News
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