Oil giant, Shell, has agreed to pay a total of $84m (about N16.6b) as compensation to residents of the Bodo community in the Niger Delta over two oil spills.
According to a BBC report, lawyers for 15,600 Nigerian fishermen say their clients will receive $3,300 each for losses caused by the spills.
The remaining $30m will be left for the community, which law firm Leigh Day says was “devastated by the two massive oil spills in 2008 and 2009”.
They say they affected thousands of hectares of mangrove in south Nigeria.
The settlement was announced by the Anglo-Dutch oil giant’s Nigerian subsidiary SPDC.
“From the outset, we’ve accepted responsibility for the two deeply regrettable operational spills in Bodo,” its managing director Mutiu Sunmonu said. Shell says that both spills were caused by operational failure of the pipelines.
However, the company maintains that the extent of environmental pollution in the area is caused by “the scourge of oil theft and illegal refining”.
It also suggested that earlier settlement efforts had been hampered “by divisions within the community”.
The law firm representing the Nigerian fishermen and their community, Leigh Day, described it as one of the largest payouts to an entire community after devastating environmental damage.
“It is the first time that compensation has been paid following an oil spill in Nigeria to the thousands of individuals who have suffered loss,” the firm said in a press release confirming the development.