What does Shell case mean for Chevron?

Oct. 19, 2011 at 8:36 AM

NEW YORK, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Officials were divided on how a U.S. Supreme Court decision to hear a case against Shell filed by Nigerians reflects on Chevron's legal issues in Ecuador.

The Supreme Court announced Monday it would hear a case filed by 12 Nigerians who claim Royal Dutch Shell is responsible for human rights violations in the Niger Delta in the 1990s.

Fadel Gheit, an analyst at Oppenheimer, told the Platts news service that ruling could have ramifications for a legal case against Chevron's activity in Ecuador.

Plaintiffs in Ecuador blame Texaco, which later merged into Chevron, for environmental contamination and adverse health effects tied to operations in the country's rainforests from 1972-90. Chevron points to a 1998 agreement between Texaco and Ecuador that absolves of it liability in the case.

Gheit said Chevron might have to rethink its position in light of the Supreme Court decision.

"If you open the case for Shell, you have to open it for Ecuador," he was quoted as saying.

But Chevron spokesman Kent Robertson told the news service the legal connection wasn't so clear cut.

"Chevron is being sued under Ecuadorian law, not U.S. law," he said. "I'm not sure I see how a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, regardless of which way it goes, would have any influence over Ecuador's courts."

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