Royal Dutch Shell Battles Nigerians in the Courtroom
What was once a lucrative source of revenue in Nigeria is continuing to be a headache for Royal Dutch Shell. That’s because the communities of both Ogale and Bille Kingdom are going to court to sue the company for what they believe is permanent environmental damages to their land.
However, the small towns are taking the unique approach of suing the company in courts based in London and the Netherlands. The company is claiming that because its subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Co. of Nigeria, is handling the firm’s Nigerian interests, the case should be tried in Nigeria. Their belief is that gaining a full understanding of the issues can’t be properly addressed from 4,500 miles away.
Disputing this, the towns claim that because of Royal Dutch Shell’s power, they would not be able to mount any sort of successful case. Any such litigation would potentially take decades before any settlement would eventually be paid out.
Shell officials claim that the damage that’s been caused has been the direct result of criminal activity from Nigerians opposed to the company’s presence. Things like oil spills, sabotage and outright theft have left areas in Ogale, Bille Kingdom and elsewhere damaged.
For more than six decades, Shell has had a presence within Nigeria. The most prominent area has been in the Niger Delta, which has helped bring in billions of dollars. That was even the case in 2015, when oil continued to flow.
The problem is that with the company’s increased focus on renewable energies, the steep drop in oil prices over the past few years and the continuing problems like this litigation, Nigeria’s overall value to Shell continues to decrease. This fight may end up costing Nigerians over the long run, making it a pyrrhic victory.