LONDON — Around 11,000 Nigerian villagers who say their livelihoods were ruined in oil spills launched a legal battle Friday to seek compensation from Shell.
The case marks the first time any oil firm has faced claims in the U.K. from a community in the developing world for environmental damage caused by oil extraction operations, the villagers’ lawyers said.
Shell, the largest international firm operating in Nigeria, admitted liability for two oil spills in August 2011. However, the two sides dispute the amount of oil spilled and the extent of the damage caused, one of the villagers’ London-based lawyers told msnbc.com.
At the crux of the disagreement is whether the spills that devastated the area were due to so-called operational failures on the part of Shell, or if they were the result of sabotage, illegal refining and theft.Read story on NBCNews.com >