Timeline - Shell in Nigeria

Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:08pm GMT

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(Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell's operations in Nigeria came under the spotlight on Wednesday after a Dutch court ruled that the company could be held partially responsible for pollution in southern Nigeria.

Following are some of the highlights of Shell's history in Nigeria.

1936 - The Royal Dutch Shell Group establishes a Nigerian venture with the precursor company of BP Plc. The first shipment of oil from Nigeria takes place in 1958.

April 1973 - Nigerian government takes a stake in the venture. Over the coming years, the government increases its stake and BP exits.

1979 - The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) is established, incorporating assets of the older Shell-BP consortium. Over time, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation comes to own 55 percent, Shell owns 30 percent, France's Total owns 10 percent and Italy's Eni 5 percent. Shell remains the operator.

1990 - The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), led by firebrand environmental rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, starts campaigning for a fairer share of oil wealth for the Ogoni people living on oil fields and compensation for environmental damage.

January 1993 - MOSOP organises protests of around 300,000 Ogoni people against Shell and oil pollution. Nigeria's military government occupies the region militarily.

April 1993 - Shell forms Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo), which signs Production Sharing Contracts to develop offshore oil and gas interests.

November 1995 - Saro-Wiwa and eight other MOSOP leaders are executed by dictator Sani Abacha's military government on alleged murder charges, to worldwide horror. Nigeria is suspended from the Commonwealth.

Late 1990s - Over time, Shell's focus shifts to offshore exploration, where it enjoys better margins and fewer threats of attack by militants.

October 2003 - SPDC pumps more than 1 million barrels of oil per day.

2006 - Militant group MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) emerges and begins to attack Shell facilities. Like MOSOP it seeks a great share of oil wealth for the Delta's people and remediation for oil spills. SPDC pump stations and platforms in Niger delta are attacked and production falls.

January 2010 - SPDC sells some onshore fields and says it is no longer looking to Nigeria for growth.

August 2011 - A U.N. report criticises Shell and the Nigerian government for contributing to 50 years of pollution in Ogoniland which it says needs the world's largest ever oil clean-up, costing an initial $1 billion and taking up to 30 years.

March 2012 - A group of 11,000 Nigerians from Bodo, Ogoniland, launch a suit against Royal Dutch Shell at the London High Court, seeking tens of millions of dollars in compensation for two oil spills in 2008.

January 2013 - A Dutch court rules that Shell could be held partially responsible for pollution in the Niger Delta, saying the company should have prevented sabotage at one of its facilities. Four Nigerians and Friends of the Earth filed the suit originally in 2008 in the Netherlands. (Reporting by Tom Bergin and David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)

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