Around 11,000 villagers from the Bodo community in the oil-rich Niger Delta filed suit in a London court against Shell, saying oil spills in the region devastated the regional fisheries industry.
In 2011, the Nigerian subsidiary of Shell claimed responsibility for oil spills of around 4,000 barrels in the region in 2008. A lawsuit was filed in a London court after negotiations collapsed in mid-March, Nigerian newspaper Daily Nation reports.
Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director of Shell Petroleum Co. of Nigeria, said in a statement that it was "disappointing" that the case was taken to the British courts.
"As we have always maintained, this serves only to delay clean up of the recent pollution caused by illegal activity and the payment of fair compensation to those individuals affected by the 2008 operational spills," he said. "The only beneficiaries of U.K. litigation will be the lawyers."
Sunmonu said Shell used contractors from the Bodo community to clean up the affected area and those operations were completed by 2009.
"Unfortunately, the area has since been badly impacted by further oil spills caused by oil theft, sabotage and other illegal activity," he said.