Shell needs to take hard look at Nigerian onshore oil - CEO

Ben van Beurden, chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell, speaks during the 26th World Gas Conference in Paris, France, June 2, 2015. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell needs to take another hard look at its onshore oil operations in Nigeria due to continued problems with theft and sabotage, Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said on Thursday.

A Dutch appeals court on Friday held Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary responsible for multiple oil pipeline leaks in the Niger Delta and ordered it to pay unspecified damages to farmers, in a victory for environmentalists.

Shell maintains that the spills were caused by sabotage. In November, it also lost a Nigerian high court case that could lead to $44 million in damages for spills.

“Our onshore oil position, despite all the efforts we put in against theft and sabotage, is under challenge,” van Beurden told reporters, saying it was a headache.

Shell’s Nigerian onshore joint venture SPDC has sold about 50% of its oil assets over the past decade, he said.

“But developments like we are still seeing at the moment mean that we have to take another hard look at our position in onshore oil in Nigeria.”

Reporting by Ron Bousso and Shadia Nasralla; Editing by David Clarke