Shell Plc has announced the suspension of its plans to sell onshore oil assets in Nigeria, in response to a Supreme Court suit over oil leak appeal filed by a community in Bayelsa State.
Recall that the oil giant had earlier in May 2021 announced its plan of divestment. It was subsequently sued by the people of Aghoro I in Ekeremor Local Government Area in Bayelsa over the May 17, 2018 oil leak from the oil firm’s Trans Ramos Pipeline.
The Supreme Court had on June 16 ordered Shell to shelve its plan and to maintain the status quo until October, when a court ruling that will stop Shell from selling its assets in Nigeria until a dispute over a lower court decision to award a Niger Delta community N700 billion in compensation over the spill is resolved.
Earlier, the company spokesperson had said the court ruling did not affect the planned sale of onshore assets in Nigeria.
“The Supreme Court ruling on 16 June was with respect to the contempt proceedings and not related to (the) onshore portfolio review,” Reuters quoted him as saying.
But in a swift about turn Thursday, the company in a statement by Chairman of Companies and Managing Director of SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said Shell will not go on with the divestment of its interest in SPDC until the outcome of SPDC’s appeal.
“The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd. (SPDC) complies with the law, including any court orders, and respects the judiciary and its role in upholding the rule of law”, said Okunbor.
“Recent media reporting regarding the 16 June Supreme Court proceedings does not accurately reflect SPDC’s response to the order. SPDC will continue to comply with the Supreme Court’s order to maintain the status quo. We have a strong belief in the merits of our case, which we are vigorously defending.”