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MarketWatch: Royal Dutch/Shell Group faces local lawsuit over Nigeria gas flaring

MarketWatch: Royal Dutch/Shell Group faces local lawsuit over Nigeria gas flaring

21 June 2005

By MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) — Communities in Nigeria’s Niger Delta are suing Royal Dutch/Shell Group (RD, SC) and its partners in a local court after the company said it would continue gas flaring beyond a legal deadline, the non-governmental organization Friends of Earth said Monday.

Gas flaring is the highly polluting process of burning off natural gas trapped in crude oil.

In a statement, Friends of Earth said last month Shell had announced it would continue flaring until 2009, a year beyond a deadline set by the Nigerian government.

Friends of the Earth said the case was filed in the Federal High Court of Nigeria in Benin City. It didn’t specify what amount of damages it was seeking.

Shell operates and is a 30% shareholder in the Shell Petroleum Development Co. of Nigeria Ltd., or SPDC.

Friends of Earth said it was also suing: Shell’s partners in SPDC; the Nigeria government, which owns 55% via the Nigerian National Petroleum Co.; Total SA (TOT), which has a 10% stake; and Agip SpA (AGI.YY), which holds 5%.

A Shell spokeswoman said the company was aware of the statement but “we haven’t been served the lawsuit, so cannot specifically comment.”

She reiterated that the company is committed to end flaring in 2009 and that the delay was due to “past underfunding by our government partner and delays by SPDC in implementing projects” to process the gas.

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