SHELL’S agreement to pay £55 million in compensation to communities affected by oil spills in the Niger delta in 2008 may not signal an end to their problems in Africa, with reports more communities are looking to sue the oil giant.

Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary reached a settlement with the Bodo community in early January after the “highly regrettable operational spills”, where thousands of barrels of oil were leaked into mangrove and fishing areas in southern Ogoniland.

The compensation will be split between the community and individual people, with £20 million to go towards local infrastructure and 15,600 residents to receive £2100 each.

Shell initially claimed only 4,000 barrels had been leaked in the spill, but later admitted the amount had been higher, with a US firm estimating the amount at 100,000 barrels.

Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria managing director Mutiu Sunmonu said the company had “always wanted to compensate the community fairly”, but deflected blame to illegal oil theft and refining as the main causes of
environmental damage in the region.

“Unless real action is taken to end the scourge of oil theft and illegal refining… areas that are cleaned up will simply become re-impacted through these illegal activities,” Mr Sunmonu said.

The Guardian reported nearby Bonny Island residents would bypass Nigerian courts and take action in the UK to get restitution for a November 2014 spill caused by a damaged pipeline.

“Normal life has stopped here because of the spill. This was just the last of multiple spills we have experienced. Shell has still not done the clean-up here. They are a big company and if we go to the Nigerian courts, they will win,” The Guardian reported Bonny Island community leader Amasenibo Abere as saying.