The aftermath of a Shell oil spill in Nigeria.
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The aftermath of a Shell oil spill in Nigeria, which was apparently not Shell’s fault.

Two updates on international lawsuits against oil companies. You will not be surprised to learn that each features good news for the corporation involved.

We wrote last October about a lawsuit filed by four Nigerian villagers, seeking compensation from Shell for years of oil spills that polluted the local water supply. Shell claimed that the spills were the work of thieves and sabotage, not its own negligence.

The update, from the Associated Press:

In its ruling Wednesday the Hague Civil Court rejected most of the case brought by Nigerian farmers and environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth against Shell, saying the leaking pipelines were caused by saboteurs, not Shell negligence.

However, in one case, the judges ordered a subsidiary, Shell Nigeria, to compensate a farmer for breach of duty of care by making it too easy for saboteurs to open an oil well head that leaked on to his land. …

Shell hailed the judgment as a victory.

“We are very pleased by the ruling of the court today,” said Allard Castelain of Shell. “It’s clear that both the parent company, Royal Dutch Shell, as well as the local venture … has been proven right.”

The Dutch arm of Friends of the Earth, which represented the Nigerian farmers, welcomed the compensation order for one village, but said it was “stunned” by its defeats in other villages.

Meanwhile, Chevron is contesting an $18 billion settlement levied against it by a court in Ecuador for decades of pollution in the Amazon rainforest. The company has argued that the judgment was the result of corrupt testimony, witnesses, and process.

And the update, from Reuters:

A former Ecuadorean judge has claimed that after stepping down from the bench, he illegally ghostwrote a judgment in which Chevron was ordered to pay the country $18.2 billion for polluting the rain forest, and he further charged that the plaintiffs agreed to pay $500,000 to the judge who handed down the ruling.

Alberto Guerra, who presided over the case from 2003 to 2004, made the allegations in a sworn statement filed by Chevron on Monday in support of a lawsuit in Manhattan federal district court accusing the Ecuadorean plaintiffs and their lawyers of fraud. …

Karen Hinton, a spokeswoman for the plaintiffs, in a statement called Guerra a “disgraced former Ecuadorean judge who is being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by Chevron to make false allegations about the Ecuador trial court judgment.”

Another lawyer for the plaintiffs called the former judge “a scoundrel.”

The case against Shell is now resolved; the Chevron case is ongoing. If you’re curious where the oil the companies extract in Nigeria and Ecuador ends up, the answer is the East and West Coasts of the United States, respectively.