A Nigerian court has ordered Royal Dutch Shell to pay $1.5 billion in damages for pollution in the oil-producing Niger Delta region.
The high court late Friday upheld an earlier ruling that the oil giant should pay the money to ethnic Ijaw communities in the state of Bayelsa. Shell had asked the court to overturn the earlier ruling, which was issued in February.
A group of Ijaws is seeking compensation for what they call the devastation of their area's environment because of oil drilling.
Shell and its partners produce about half of Nigeria's 2.5 million barrels of crude oil per day.
Spokesmen for Shell say the company also has appealed the high court's ruling. The court has ordered Shell to place the $1.5 billion dollars in an escrow account by Monday while the case continues.
A series of militant attacks on oilrigs in the Niger Delta has cut overall Nigerian oil production by some 20 percent this year. The militants say they are seeking compensation for oil damage, and more local control over oil revenues.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.