TIMELINE-Royal Dutch Shell in Nigeria

LONDON Thu Aug 4, 2011 12:55pm EDT

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LONDON Aug 4 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell's (RDSa.L) operations in Nigeria have come under the spotlight after the company accepted villagers had a right to sue its Nigerian venture in a British court over oil spills in the Niger Delta.

A United Nations report on Thursday has also estimated that Ogoniland in the oil-rich Niger Delta could need the world's largest ever oil clean-up.

The following are some of the highlights of Shell's history in Nigeria.

1936 - The Royal Dutch Shell Group establishes a Nigerian venture with the precursor company of BP Plc .

1958 - The first shipment of oil from Nigeria

April 1973 - Nigerian government takes a stake in the venture. Over the coming years, the government increases its stake and BP exits.

1979 - Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) established, incorporating assets of the older Shell-BP consortium. Over time, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation would come to own 55 percent, Shell owned 30 percent, France's Total owned 10 percent and Italy's Eni owned 5 percent. Shell remains the lead partner operationally.

April 1993 - Shell forms Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo) which signs Production Sharing Contracts to develop offshore oil and gas interests. Over time, Shell's focus would shift to offshore exploration where it enjoyed better margins and fewer threats of attack by militants.

October 2003 - SPDC pumps more than 1 million barrels of oil per day.

2006 - Militant group MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) emerges and begins to attack Shell facilities. SPDC pump stations and platforms in Niger delta are especially at risk and production falls.

January 2010 - SPDC sells some onshore fields and says it is no longer looking to Nigeria for growth.

(Reporting by Tom Bergin. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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