BRITISH lawyers representing a Nigerian community allegedly blighted by oil pipeline leaks said yesterday that they would meet industry giant Shell in a bid to reach agreement.
A legal action has been brought against Shell in relation to claims by 15,000 residents of the Bodo community in Nigeria’s Niger delta after two major pipeline leaks in 2008.
“The result of these leaks was an environmental catastrophe for the Bodo community and the biggest loss of mangrove habitat in the history of oil spills,” said Martyn Day of Leigh Day solicitors, which is representing the claimants.
“The 40,000 residents of the Bodo community primarily relied on fishing and their way of life and source of livelihoods has been destroyed for years to come.
“We will be meeting with Shell in December. After two failed attempts to negotiate a deal we are more hopeful that with the trial looming this will be the spur for Shell to pay a fair and reasonable amount to the villagers whose lives have been blighted by these oil spills.”
Mediation talks between lawyers from Leigh Day and Shell are due to begin on December 8.
If agreement cannot be reached between the parties the case will go to a full trial before Mr Justice Akenhead at London’s High Court next year.
Meanwhile, internal documents filed in a London court this week suggest that Shell was told the pipeline had reached the end of its life years before it spilled up to 500,000 barrels of oil, according to the BBC.
The documents apparently show that senior Shell employees had expressed concern prior to the spills that its pipelines in the area required replacement.
Shell denies that it knowingly continued to use a pipeline that was not safe to operate.
“We are in the process of preparing for a trial in May 2015 regarding the Bodo operational spills, at which time internal documents … relating to the Trans Niger Pipeline will be set in their proper context for review by the court,” the firm added.