Shell leak case to take months to reach Dutch court

2nd February 2010, Comments 0 comments

A claim by two Nigerian farmers and an environmental body against oil giant Shell for polluting the Niger Delta will take months to come to open court, their lawyer said Monday.

The Hague--The farmers say oil leaked from a pipeline in July 2005 has robbed them of their livelihoods by destroying their farms and fishing waters.

They demand that Shell fix the leaky pipelines, clean the spilt oil, and compensate them for damages, and the Dutch environmental organisation Milieudefensie is supporting their case.

A civil court in The Hague declared itself competent in December to try the case brought against Anglo-Dutch company Shell, which argued the court had no jurisdiction over it and its Nigerian subsidiary.

"It will take months," to reach open court, lawyer Michel Uiterwaal told AFP on Monday.

Uiterwaal said it was the first ever civil case against a Dutch firm in a Dutch court for damage caused abroad.

Two other farmers have lodged simultaneous claims with Milieudefensie against Shell in the Netherlands over the same spill, but no decision has been made yet on jurisdiction.

Shell has said the leak was caused by sabotage and not bad maintenance as claimed, and that it was therefore not liable.

Oil firms operating in the Niger Delta have long been subject to attacks and sabotage by local armed movements claiming to want better living standards and a share in the oil wealth for local people.

Shell said on Monday it had shut production in southern Nigeria after a key supply pipeline was sabotaged.

The January 30 attack came just hours after the region's most active armed group the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, called off a unilateral ceasefire it declared on October 25.

AFP/ Expatica

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