Royal Dutch Shell faces a lawsuit on Thursday from four Nigerian villagers in a case that could set a precedent for damage claims against international companies.
It is the first time the oil giant is being put on trial in a civil court at home in connection with damage caused abroad.
The plaintiffs are four Nigerian farmers and fishermen and campaign group Friends of the Earth.
The four seek unspecified compensation and argue they can no longer feed their families because the area has been polluted with oil from Shell’s pipelines and production facilities.
Filed in The Hague, where Shell has its joint global headquarters, the case seeks to make Shell and other corporations responsible for pollution from three oil spills between 2004 and 2007 in the Niger Delta region of Africa’s top energy producer.
With around 31 million inhabitants, the Niger Delta is one of the world’s most important wetland and coastal marine ecosystems. It is an important source of food for the poor, rural population.
Shell says the pollution was caused by oil thieves and believes it has played its part in cleaning up.