Things don’t go well for Shell. Dutch Court of Appeal finds it liable for pipeline spills in Nigeria

The Dutch Court of Appeal has held that Shell Nigeria is liable for two pipeline spills in Oruma and Goi that took place between 2004-05. Shell had argued that the spills were caused by sabotage, so-called ‘bunkering’. Under Nigerian law, which was applied pursuant to the Rome I Regulation, the company would not be liable if the leaks were the result of sabotage. However, the court said that Shell had not been able fully to prove the causes of the spill. Although the parent company Royal Dutch Shell was not found directly responsible, the court ordered it to install a leak detection system on the Oruma pipeline, the source of several spills in the case – a finding of great interest in the ongoing debate about tort and multi-national companies..

Another case involving pipeline spills in Nigeria, Okpabi v Royal Dutch Shell, came before the UK Supreme Court last June. A previous UK case involving spills in the Bodo area was settled in 2015.

One thought on “Things don’t go well for Shell. Dutch Court of Appeal finds it liable for pipeline spills in Nigeria

  1. Chinedu Kema

    Hopefully, the court order directing Royal Dutch Shell to install a leak detection system on the Oruma pipeline will spur the IOCs to take steps to improve their operations in the Niger Delta region, particularly from an environmental perspective. In any event, the key question is this: why is the installation of a leak detection system on all pipelines not mandatory both from a regulatory perspective and as an operational requirement? Surely, Shell does not need to wait for a court to order it to install a leak detection system on its pipelines given the fact that “bunkering” is an issue in the Niger Delta region.

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