Oil giant, Shell Plc, has disclosed that its planned sale of onshore assets in Nigeria will go ahead even as the Supreme Court ruled against them in a case in which a Niger Delta community is seeking compensation for a 2019 oil spill.
In a report by Reuters, the spokesman for Shell in Nigeria, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, was quoted to have clarified that the June 16 Supreme Court ruling was in response to an appeal launched by Shell against a contempt ruling linked to the dispute with the Niger Delta community.
The lawyer for the community said the ruling, which was made public on Monday, barred Shell from disposing of its assets as ordered by a lower court in March.
But Mr Odugbesan explained that, “The Supreme Court ruling on 16 June was with respect to the contempt proceedings and not related to (the) onshore portfolio review.”
Shell has invited bids for its onshore assets but according to the report, Mr Odugbesan did not say how many bids had been received.
Eighty-eight communities in Rivers State were awarded $1.95 billion compensation for an oil spill they blamed on Shell and which damaged their farms and waterways, but the firm has always denied causing the spill.
The community sought and was granted a court order blocking Shell from disposing of its assets.
A panel of three judges said Shell, acting through its agents or subsidiaries was restrained from “selling, allocating, vandalising or disposing of any of its assets/properties …” prior to the determination of the appeal.
The company was also ordered to put the $1.95 billion into an account nominated by the court until the legal dispute was settled.
Shell appealed both rulings and is waiting for a hearing, said Mr Odugbesan.
The company, the most significant international oil major operating in Nigeria, has faced a string of court cases in the past over oil spills.
Shell wants to sell its stake in Nigeria’s onshore fields, where it has been active since the 1930s, as part of a global drive to reduce its carbon emissions.