BY SEBASTINE OBASI with agency report
Victims of the two oil spills caused by Royal Dutch Shell in Bodo community of Gokana Local Government Area, Rivers State, in 2008, will be paid £30 million as compensation. Dutch Shell declared willingness to pay up to £30 million (N7.5 billion) after a London court rejected a larger claim, Reuters reported.
About 15,000 residents of Bodo community represented by a law firm, Leigh Day, appealed in 2011 to a London court for more than £300 million in compensation.
Claimants say that the two spills resulted in the leakage of 500,000 barrels of oil, but Shell estimated the volume at around 4,000 barrels. Shell has already offered some compensation for the spills.
A Shell offer in September 2013 to settle the case for £30 million remained on the table. The lawyer representing the claimants rejected the sum.
“Shell has consistently sought to underestimate the damage whilst paying only lip service to an apology.
These spills, which are some of the largest oil spills in history, have devastated a community of many thousands of people and ravaged the environment.
“The offer of £30 million had been made before, but rejected by our clients, who found it insulting and derisory. Nothing has changed this view,” Martyn Day, said in a statement.
A trial is planned to start in May 2015 in Nigeria, but Shell urged the claimants to reach a settlement beforehand.
“From the outset, we’ve accepted responsibility for the two deeply regrettable operational spills in Bodo,” Mutiu Sunmonu, Managing Director of the Shell Petroleum Development Company in Nigeria, said in a statement.
“We hope the community will now direct their United Kingdom legal representatives to stop wasting more time pursuing enormously exaggerated claims and consider sensible and fair compensation offers,” Sunmonu said.