Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Royal Dutch/Shell settles on $15.5 millon on Saro Wiwa case

From Democracy Now!

The case was brought on behalf of ten plaintiffs who accused Shell of complicity in the 1995 executions of Nigerian writer and environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others.

Of course, Royal Dutch/Shell didn't admit guilt, but the case against them was pretty strong, so they offer a settlement rather than go along with a trial. Anyway, the settlement is simply the cost of doing business for Shell. Does it mean that it will make Shell change any future policies? Even with their PR concerns for the Ogoni people, I seriously doubt it. Shell is a business that puts profits before people, no matter what their PR departments will do to "sell" us. The settlement is the beginning of the process of reconciliation, not the end, as the DN! interviews point out.

Radio Netherlands reports also that Shell faces another court battle.

Another lawsuit was filed last year on behalf of Nigerian plaintiffs by Friends of the Earth Netherlands. The case concerns three specific oil spills that cost several families their livelihoods.

Millions of people in the Niger Delta live in poverty despite the region’s oil riches. Anne van Schaik of Friends of the Earth said the settlement is a sign that large oil companies will start to take responsibility for the actions of their subsidiaries.

“One of the most important things is that people can have a normal way of living. The traditional way of living in the Niger Delta is one of farmers and fishermen, and I think it’s very important that nature is restored back to the original state. Then you have a way of income and from that you can build your life.

“If everything is polluted because of the oil spill and you don’t even have access to clean drinking water, then your whole means of living is destroyed. And that of course is grounds for terrorism and all kinds of other attacks.”

In a statement to Reuters, Shell’s executive director for exploration and production said Shell maintains the allegations are false.

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