Shell files int’l arbitration against Nigeria over oil spill case

According to a filing with the World Bank dispute resolution agency, Royal Dutch Shell has initiated international arbitration against Nigeria over a dispute over an oil spill that took place five decades ago.

The problem relates to an oil spill that took place during the 1967-70 Biafran war in the Ejama-Ebubu community. In November, Nigeria’s Supreme Court rejected Shell’s request to appeal the award. Shell said it never had the ability to defend itself against the content of the claims.

“This is not a decision we take lightly but, given the history of this particular case, we are seeking protection of our legal rights from an international tribunal,” Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) said in an email.

On Feb. 10, Shell filed with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) of the World Bank. It declined to say what the firm was seeking through arbitration, and no specifics were included in the ICSID posting.

The attorney general of Nigeria did not respond to a request for comment.

Over the past few months, Shell, the most influential multinational oil company operating in Nigeria, has faced a string of court defeats over oil spills.

In November, in the case at hand, Nigeria’s Supreme Court dismissed its bid to set aside a 2010 award of 17 billion naira ($45 million), with accruing interest, that the community asserts is now worth more than 180 billion naira.

A coalition of fishermen and farmers won the right last week to sue a corporation in the United Kingdom over oil spills in Nigeria.

A Dutch appeals court found it liable for several oil pipeline spills in the Niger Delta last month and ordered it to pay farmers unspecified damages

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