Shell sued over Nigerian oil pipelines

A lawsuit has been brought against Royal Dutch Shell hoping to hold the company liable for a series of oil spills on the Niger Delta, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The suit is being supported by the environmental group Friends of the Earth Netherlands, and alleges that Shell failed to maintain its oil pipeline network in Nigeria.

Shell is the dominant oil company in the African nation, the largest producer on the continent. However, it operates there through its subsidiary Shell Nigeria. The lawsuit's attempt to hold the parent company responsible for its subsidiary's pipelines could set a sweeping precedent for the European oil industry.

A series of three leaks in Shell's Nigerian pipelines spilled an estimated 1,100 barrels over the course of three years. But aside from cleanup, Friends of the Earth hopes to force Shell to improve maintenance along the winding pipeline system. Aside from limited investment in the system, Nigeria also suffers from regular thefts that damage the pipelines.

In addition to Shell, The Wall Street Journal reports that BP is also facing questions about its liability for an oil spill, as the new oil slick in the Gulf has raised questions about the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident.

An oil exploration outlook for Nigeria is provided at PennEnergy's Research area.

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