Nigerians win UK court OK to sue Shell over oil spills

Nigerians win UK court OK to sue Shell over oil spills
This Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016 photo shows the Shell logo at a petrol station in London. (AP)
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Updated 13 February 2021

Nigerians win UK court OK to sue Shell over oil spills

Nigerians win UK court OK to sue Shell over oil spills
  • Nigeria’s Ogale and Bille communities allege their lives and health have suffered because repeated oil spills have contaminated the land, swamps, groundwater and waterways and that there has been no adequate cleaning or remediation

LONDON: The UK Supreme Court on Friday allowed a group of 42,500 Nigerian farmers and fishermen to sue Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) in English courts after years of oil spills in the Niger Delta contaminated land and groundwater.

Senior judges said there was an arguable case that UK-domiciled Shell, one of the world’s biggest energy companies, is responsible, in the latest test of whether multinationals can be held to account for the acts of overseas subsidiaries.
Represented by law firm Leigh Day, the group of Nigerians have argued that the parent company Shell owed them a duty of care because it either had significant control of, and was responsible for, its subsidiary SPDC. Shell countered that the court had no jurisdiction to try the claims.
“(The ruling) also represents a watershed moment in the accountability of multinational companies. Increasingly impoverished communities are seeking to hold powerful corporate actors to account and this judgment will significantly increase their ability to do so,” Daniel Leader, partner at Leigh Day, said.
“UK common law is also used in countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand so this is a very helpful precedent.”
The decision comes almost two years after a seminal ruling by the Supreme Court in a case involving mining firm Vedanta. The judgment allowed nearly 2,000 Zambian villagers to sue Vedanta in England for alleged pollution in Africa.
That move was seen as a victory for rural communities seeking to hold parent companies accountable for environmental disasters. Vedanta ultimately settled out of court in January.
Nigeria’s Ogale and Bille communities allege their lives and health have suffered because repeated oil spills have contaminated the land, swamps, groundwater and waterways and that there has been no adequate cleaning or remediation.
SPDC is the operator of oil pipelines in a joint venture between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation which holds a 55 percent stake, Shell which holds 30 percent, France’s Total with 10 percent Italy’s Eni with 5 percent.
A Shell spokesman said the decision was disappointing.
“Regardless of the cause of a spill, SPDC cleans up and remediates. It also works hard to prevent these sabotage spills, by using technology, increasing surveillance and by promoting alternative livelihoods for those who might damage pipes and equipment,” Shell said.
Shell has blamed sabotage for oil spills. It said in its annual report published last March that SPDC, which produces around 1 million barrels of oil per day, saw crude oil spills caused by theft or pipeline sabotage surge by 41 percent in 2019.
Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said last week that the firm would take “another hard look at its onshore oil operations” in the west African country.
The ruling is the second judgment against Shell this year regarding claims against its Nigerian operations. In a landmark Dutch ruling two weeks ago, an appeals court held Shell responsible for multiple oil pipeline leaks in the Niger Delta and ordered it to pay unspecified damages to farmers, in a victory for environmentalists.
Leigh Day said that the amount of compensation sought would be quantified as the case enters the trial stage. Shell could however try to settle the matter out of court.


Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag
Updated 16 min 13 sec ago

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag
  • Fares to Luxor start from 129 dirhams ($35) with Sohag flights from 179 dirhams and Belgrade from 199 dirhams
  • Regional airlines are gradually adding new capacity as vaccinations programs are rolled out worldwide and more people resume flying

DUBAI: Wizz Air Abu Dhabi has announced three new routes connecting the UAE capital to Belgrade, Sohag and Luxor.
Fares to Luxor start from 129 dirhams ($35) with Sohag flights from 179 dirhams and Belgrade from 199 dirhams, it said on Monday.
"The new connection between the capital of the United Arab Emirates and these three new cities within Europe and the Middle East will continue to stimulate air traffic demand and support the growth of Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector and economic agenda," said Kees Van Schaick, managing director of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi.
Regional airlines are gradually adding new capacity as vaccinations programs are rolled out worldwide and more people resume flying.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is a joint venture between ADQ, one of the region’s largest holding companies and Wizz Air Holdings, the fastest growing European airline which operates a fleet of 137 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft.


Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank
Updated 37 min 34 sec ago

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank
  • Online banking has become increasingly popular in the UAE, especially as a result of restrictions as a result of the pandemic

Dubai businessman Mohamed Alabbar is to lead a new digital bank set to be launched soon in the UAE.

Zand is being billed as “the world’s first combined digital corporate and retail bank” and is currently going through final approvals ahead of its launch, according to an announcement issued on Monday.

Alabbar is the founder of Emaar Properties — the Dubai developer behind The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa — and also teamed up with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to launch the Noon online shopping platform in 2017. As part of his latest venture, he will take on the role of chairman of Zand.

“The UAE combines progressive regulations with commercial, financial, and technology hubs. This provides the perfect environment for a world-leading digital bank that can launch in the UAE and scale beyond,” Alabbar said in a statement.

“As the first fully independent digital bank in the country, with a full UAE banking license, Zand will provide innovative, effective financial solutions that help simplify businesses and lives, addressing the needs of both retail and corporate customers.”

Online banking has become increasingly popular in the UAE, especially as a result of restrictions as a result of the pandemic, which made it harder to get to a physical bank branch.

A survey by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) last October found that 70 percent of respondents said that they are actively searching for a new bank and 87 percent said they would be willing to open an account with a branchless digital-only lender.

The same BCG survey found that 53 percent said that they were using banking mobile apps more often as a result of the pandemic and half of those surveyed had started using digital banking for the first time.

“UAE’s banking customers’ have a strong appetite for digital banks, and we see more growth in the demand of digital products during the pandemic,” Mohammad Khan, partner at BCG, was quoted as saying.


Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO
Updated 42 min 24 sec ago

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO
  • The pandemic had prompted some companies to shelve planned offerings

RIYADH: Bahrain Bourse is expected to attract two new public offerings this year, its CEO told Asharq Business.
The first is a logistics company and the second an oil company, Sheikh Khalifa bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, told the website
However, he said that the pandemic had prompted some companies to shelve planned offerings.
He said that the exchange was focused on easing the entry of investors into the market.
He also highlighted the launch of the Bahrain Bourse environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting guideline for listed companies, in response to rising appetite for such investments from global institutions.
The stock exchange applies the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) to classify listed companies, he said, highlighting continued cooperation with Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul stock exchange, the largest in the region.
He said the bourse’s main objective was to diversify its investor based which is currently dominated by institutions, unlike some other regional exchanges where individual investors are more strongly represented,
Al-Khalifa pointed to the adoption of new listing rules that better guarantee the rights of investors, including those directed at companies with large accumulated losses.


We are happier at home say UAE workers

We are happier at home say UAE workers
Updated 58 min 11 sec ago

We are happier at home say UAE workers

We are happier at home say UAE workers
  • The Life and Beyond 2020 research after polling 10,000 workers in 11 countries to discover the impact of COVID-19 on their wellbeing

DUBAI: UAE workers are happy working from home according to a new study.

The Life and Beyond 2020 research, conducted by US-based technology company Avaya, revealed the UAE as “among the fondest of work-from-anywhere models,” after polling 10,000 workers in 11 countries to discover the impact of COVID-19 on their wellbeing.

The research found 64 percent of those polled in the UAE would support government policies aimed at adopting modern working practices, including remote working, adding it would contribute to their happiness.

The biggest worry for 51 percent of the country’s workforce was returning to work in the office full-time, the survey also revealed.

The UAE was also identified as the world’s best equipped country for remote working, with 64 percent claiming they have access to technology to be able to work from anywhere. Only 62 percent in the US said the same, and 55 percent inthe UK.


Al Ramz boss sees interest rate upside for UAE property

Al Ramz boss sees interest rate upside for UAE property
Updated 12 April 2021

Al Ramz boss sees interest rate upside for UAE property

Al Ramz boss sees interest rate upside for UAE property
  • Dubai-listed Al Ramz recorded a 2020 loss of investments of about 31 million dirhams ($8.4 million)

DUBAI: Low interest rates may fuel the recovery of the UAE real estate sector, according to the boss of one of the country’s biggest brokers.
The country is well positioned for an “accelerated bounce back from 2020 as all the ingredients for growth come back in play starting in 2021,”
Al Ramz chairman Dhafer Sahmi Al-Ahbabi said in the company’s annual report published on Monday.
“The backdrop of low interest rates not seen since the 2011 lows, will fuel the private sector and real estate sector in the country to fuel the growth over the next few years,” he said.

The UAE stock market has already signaled this positive outlook with the UAE indexes already outperforming in the EMEA and EM region in 2021.”
It comes after a tough year for regional brokers hit hard by the sharp decline in corporate profits and trading activity.
Dubai-listed Al Ramz recorded a 2020 loss of investments of about 31 million dirhams ($8.4 million), resulting to a net loss of 10.9 million dirhams, compared to a profit of 4.1 million in 2019.
Al Ramz had to diversify its income sources to buffer the blow of COVID-19, Al-Ahbabi said.