Earlier this week, The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom concluded that it was too late for a group of Nigerian claimants to sue two Shell companies over the Nigeria Bonga oil spill in 2011.
ccording to UK The Supreme Court, the Appellants alleged that the oil migrated from the offshore Bonga oil field to reach the Nigerian Atlantic shoreline where they claim it has had a devastating impact. Although the Respondents disputed these claims, it was assumed for the purposes of the appeal that some quantity of oil reached the Nigerian Atlantic shoreline within weeks of 20 December 2011.
At the Bonga oil field, 120km off the coast of Nigeria, oil is extracted using a mobile oil rig, belonging to Shell. The oil is sent from the mobile rig, via submersible flexible flow lines, to a mooring buoy and is then loaded onto oil tankers.
On 20 December 2011, there was a leak from one of the flexible flowlines between the rig and mooring buoy while oil was being transferred onto a ship. The spill comprised at least 40,000 barrels and was one of the largest spills in Nigerian oil exploration history. In 2012, Nigerian regulators told parliament that Royal Dutch Shell should be fined $5 billion for environmental damage.
Luckily for Shell, the Supreme Court decided in their favor as the Appellants had filed their case after a six-year legal period had passed.
To remind, a few years later, Shell faced another case where it paid $2.2 million for violating the Clean Water Act after spilling 1,900 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in May 2016.