Shell said Friday that it had reached a deal with the Dutch environmental group Milieudefensie that has helped 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.
The agreement also indicates that restoration work has been finished and that a leak detection system has been installed on 20 pipeline segments in accordance with the Dutch court’s order.
Despite acknowledging that the settlement follows upon the Dutch court ruling, the oil firm said the agreement “is on a no admission of liability basis, and settles all claims and ends all pending litigation related to the spills”.
In order to get Shell to pay for cleaning up spills from its pipes in the Niger river delta, a significant oil-producing area, four farmers and fishermen from the Niger Delta sued Shell in the Netherlands.
Shell has always attributed pollution to sabotage and said it had cleaned up affected areas.
The legal battle has lasted so long that the original farmers have now all died, but their survivors and the affected communities pushed on.
“It is a great relief to all of us that after the years of legal battle with Shell, we will soon be recipients of this money as compensation for all we have lost,” said Eric Dooh, one of the current plaintiffs.
Milieudefensie’s director, Donald Pols, said the settlement would allow the plaintiffs and their communities to finally get on with their lives.
“If we look at the court case as a whole, the major gain is that a new standard has been set: companies will no longer be able to get away with pollution and with ignoring human rights,” he said.
“Now they can be called to account,” Pols said.