This is stated by the defence counsel of Shell during a court session on Thursday 11 October in The Hague. The legal action was brought by Milieudefensie and four Nigerian citizens against various Shell companies, including the parent company Royal Dutch Shell plc and the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria. SPDC is a partnership with Total, Agip, the Nigerian state oil company. Shell is operator of this joint venture.
Milieudefensie is of the opinion that Shell has been negligent in the Niger Delta and that it has failed to fulfil its duty of care. Leakages were not prevented, leaks were not repaired on time and cleaning has not taken place, according to Milieudefensie.
According to the defence counsel of Shell the key question is whether SDPC and RDS are liable for the damage of leakages. Hereby it is important (for Nigerian law) what the cause of the leakages is. According to Shell, the leakages mentioned in the legal proceedings were caused by sabotage. This explanation is endorsed by the Joint Investigation Team, which includes experts of the Nigerian government, representatives of SPDC and members of the community in question.
In addition, SPDC has definitely cleaned these three locations, despite the fact that the local population obstructed access to the leakages. The soil at the site is almost completely clean. This has been certified by the Nigerian government.
According to the defence counsel of Shell, the solution to the problems in the Niger Delta does not lie in conducting polarising campaigns or commencing a legal action. SPDC does what a responsible operator should do, including clearing leakages, also when they are a result of sabotage. However, it cannot be expected of SPDC that it clears all oil pollution as s result of sabotage and illegal refining.
In the report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which was published last year, it is proposed to set up a fund of at least one billion dollar for cleaning the area. SPDC supports this proposal and is prepared to make its contribution to this fund.