More than 13,600 people, churches, and schools from two Nigerian communities are suing Shell in a UK court to hold the oil major accountable for devastating pollution and lifeways destruction by its operations there. The plaintiffs from the farming community of Ogale and the fishing community of Bille allege pollution from Shell oil operations have destroyed their ability to carry on their livelihoods.
A Swiss study in 2017 found infants in the Niger Delta are twice as likely to die in their first month of life if their mothers live near an oil spill. Shell — which on Wednesday was the subject of an SEC complaint alleging it lied to its investors about its renewables spending — has extracted oil from the Niger Delta for more than 85 years. It has argued for five years that it is not liable for harms caused by its subsidiaries and is now also arguing the plaintiffs lack legal standing to sue because the harms occurred five years ago.
“Shell is seeking to leave the Niger Delta free of any legal obligation to address the environmental devastation caused by oil spills from its infrastructure over many decades,” Daniel Leader, a partner at Leigh Day, who represents the plaintiffs, told The Guardian. “At a time when the world is focused on ‘the just transition,’ this raises profound questions about the responsibility of fossil fuel companies for legacy and ongoing environmental pollution.”
Shell also announced it made record profits in 2022, boosted by the Russian war in Ukraine, sparking criticism over the skyrocketing energy prices faced by consumers. (Lawsuit: The Guardian, The Intercept, CNBC, FT $; SEC complaint: E&E $; Profits and backlash: Bloomberg $)