Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image

Shell’s Shameful Victory: UK Supreme Court Fails Nigerian Communities in Oil Spill Case

Shell’s Shameful Victory: UK Supreme Court Fails Nigerian Communities in Oil Spill Case

Posted by John Donovan:

LONDON, 10 May 2023

The UK Supreme Court has dealt a devastating blow to Nigerian claimants seeking justice against two Shell subsidiaries for a catastrophic offshore oil spill in 2011. The ruling, announced today, marks another shameful chapter in Shell’s ongoing legal battles against the long-suffering residents of Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta—a region plagued by pollution, conflict, and corruption directly linked to the oil and gas industry.

The case centered around the leakage of a staggering 40,000 barrels of crude oil on December 20, 2011, during the loading of an oil tanker at Shell’s massive Bonga oil field, situated 120 km off the delta’s coastline. Over 27,800 individuals and 457 communities joined forces to hold Shell accountable, alleging that the resultant oil slick has left a trail of devastation in their lands and waterways, decimating farming, fishing, drinking water sources, mangrove forests, and religious sites.

However, a panel of five Supreme Court justices upheld the previous rulings of two lower courts, effectively declaring that the claimants had missed the six-year legal deadline to take action. This decision demonstrates a complete lack of empathy for the plight of the Nigerian people and effectively shields Shell from facing the consequences of its destructive actions.

The claimants’ legal team argued that the ongoing repercussions of the pollution constituted a “continuing nuisance,” a type of civil tort that should have nullified the deadline.  Justice Andrew Burrows dismissed this argument, stating, “There was no continuing nuisance in this case.” The court’s narrow focus on legal technicalities instead of the devastating impact on human lives and the environment reveals a shocking lack of compassion and a disturbing prioritization of corporate interests over justice.

Shell, unsurprisingly, has vehemently denied the claimants’ allegations, callously asserting that the Bonga spill had no impact on the shoreline. It is important to note that the court did not pass judgment on the disputed facts, as it was merely addressing the legal aspect of the case. This conveniently allows Shell to evade responsibility for the environmental and humanitarian catastrophe it has inflicted upon the Nigerian people.

While only two Nigerian citizens were directly involved in the Supreme Court case, it is crucial to recognize that this ruling affects thousands of other claimants, dashing their hopes for justice and reparation. Shell shamelessly celebrates this court victory, declaring that all legal claims related to the Bonga spill in English courts have now come to an end. Such callousness only highlights the company’s complete lack of accountability and its utter disregard for the suffering it has caused.

Shell’s spokesperson, in an attempt to downplay the severity of the spill, shamelessly stated, “While the 2011 Bonga spill was highly regrettable, it was swiftly contained and cleaned up offshore.” Such dismissive remarks only further exacerbate the pain and frustration of the affected communities, who continue to bear the brunt of Shell’s profit-driven negligence.

In the face of this tragic outcome, the legal battle against Shell’s ecological devastation in the Niger Delta continues. In a separate case, the Supreme Court ruled against Shell in February 2021, allowing 42,500 farmers and fishermen from the Ogale and Bille communities to sue the oil giant over spills. This ongoing fight for justice serves as a glimmer of hope amidst the relentless struggle against a corporation that has consistently prioritized its profits over the well-being of the communities it operates in.

It is a grave stain on the UK justice system that it has failed to protect the rights and livelihoods of the Nigerian people.

Shell is invited to point out for correction any factual inaccuracies and supply closing comments on an unedited basis for publication as part of this article. 

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Comments are closed.

Comment Rules

  • Please show respect to the opinions of others no matter how seemingly far-fetched.
  • Abusive, foul language, and/or divisive comments may be deleted without notice.
  • Each blog member is allowed limited comments, as displayed above the comment box.
  • Comments must be limited to the number of words displayed above the comment box.
  • Please limit one comment after any comment posted per post.