(Corrects number of claimants in paragraph 2, clarifies size of
spills in paragraph 3)
LONDON, June 20 Royal Dutch Shell is
ready to pay up to 30 million pounds ($51 million) in
compensation for two oil spills in Nigeria in 2008 after a
London court rejected a larger claim, sources involved in the
case said on Friday.
Around 15,000 residents of the Bodo community in the Niger
Delta represented by law firm Leigh Day appealed in 2011 to a
London court for more than 300 million pounds in compensation.
Claimants say that the two spills resulted in the leakage of
500,000 barrels of oil but Shell estimated the volume at around
Shell has already offered some compensation for the spills.
The London High Court on Friday rejected the claimants'
attempts to expand the scope of the compensation, ruling that
the pipeline operator could not be held responsible for damage
caused by oil theft.
Shell's offer from September 2013 to settle the case for 30
million pounds remained on the table, sources involved in the
A trial is planned to start in May 2015, but Shell urged the
claimants to reach a settlement beforehand.
"From the outset, we've accepted responsibility for the two
deeply regrettable operational spills in Bodo," Mutiu Sunmonu,
Managing Director of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of
Nigeria Ltd (SPDC), said in a statement.
"We hope the community will now direct their UK legal
representatives to stop wasting even more time pursuing
enormously exaggerated claims and consider sensible and fair
compensation offers," Sunmonu said.
Massive oil theft, sabotage of infrastructure and leaks from
ageing pipelines are cutting into the profits of oil majors
operating in Nigeria, as well as damaging the public finances of
the African economy.
(Reporting by Ron Bousso; Editing by Jon Boyle)