Shell faces first Nigerian oil spill claims in UK

Wed Aug 3, 2011 7:21pm GMT

* Shell to face case under British jurisdiction - lawyers

* Oil major accepts responsibility for spills

* U.N. to release report on Nigeria spills on Thursday

By Joe Brock

ABUJA, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote) has agreed that a Nigerian community impacted by its oil spills can seek compensation in a British court, lawyers in the case have said, potentially opening itself up to bigger future financial and reputational damages.

Shell said it does not comment on the legal process, which could take several months to reach a conclusion.

It has already accepted responsibility and promised to pay some form of compensation for the spills which took place in 2008 and 2009, destroying parts of the Bodo fishing communities in the Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta wetlands.

Protest groups have increasingly tried to seek compensation against western oil companies in the firms' home jurisdictions, where they get wider media coverage and usually larger payouts.

"SPDC (Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria) has always acknowledged that the two spills which affected the Bodo community, and which are the subject of this legal action, were operational," a statement from Shell said.   Continued...

Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.