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Long-awaited victory: Shell to pay out $83 million over Niger Delta oil spills

    January 21, 2015

    Legal action in the UK has driven Shell to make an out-of-court settlement of £55 million (CAD$83 million) to compensate the Bodo community of Nigeria after the livelihoods of thousands were destroyed by oil spills. The £55 million will be split between £35 million for 15,600 individuals and £20 million for the community.

    Shell’s long-overdue compensation payout is an important victory for the victims of corporate negligence.

    What happened?

    On August 28, 2008, a fault in the Trans-Niger pipeline caused a significant oil spill into Bodo Creek in Ogoniland, Nigeria. The pipeline is the responsibility of Shell. The spill, which was due to equipment failure, resulted in tens of thousands of barrels of oil polluting the land and creek surrounding Bodo, killing the fish that people depend on for food and livelihood. A second major spill began on December 7, 2008.

    How did Amnesty supporters make a difference?

    Amnesty International and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) have worked on the Bodo spills case since 2008, supporting the community to secure compensation and clean up.

    Amnesty International and CEHRD investigated the spills and published several reports, including a detailed report in November 2011. The 2011 report included photographic and satellite evidence showing the scale of the environmental impact of the 2008 oil spills, and exposed Shell’s failure to clean up the pollution, despite the requirements of Nigerian oil industry regulations

    Again and again Shell blamed illegal activity in the Niger Delta for most oil pollution but its claims have been discredited in research by Amnesty International and CEHRD.

    Shell’s official investigation report claimed only 1,640 barrels of oil were spilled in total. But, based on the independent assessment of the August 2008 spill, the total amount of oil spilled over the 72-day period was between 103,000 barrels and 311,000 barrels.

    Amnesty supporters long campaigned alongside the people of Bodo, taking to the streets in many countries to protest in solidarity with them. The case also featured in Amnesty’s global Write for Rights letter-writing marathon.

    In 2011, the people of Bodo began court proceedings in the UK against the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria.