Shell said today that it wanted a "speedy resolution" to a compensation dispute with farmers and fishermen after oil spills in Nigeria.
Bosses said they were "disappointed" by the launch of legal action in the UK following spills four years ago.
But British lawyers representing more than 11,000 Nigerians said attempts at negotiation had failed and litigation was the "only option".
Law firm Leigh Day & Co said paperwork was being lodged and an initial hearing was expected at the High Court in London in April.
Shell said the dispute concerned two 2008 "operational oil spills totalling an estimated 4,000 barrels" from Shell Petroleum Company of Nigeria facilities at Bodo, Nigeria.
"We know that oil pollution can have a serious impact on people's lives and land and we are very sorry these spills occurred," said Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director of the Shell Petroleum Company of Nigeria.
"We want a speedy resolution of this dispute so that we can pay fair compensation."
He added: "It is disappointing that the case was brought in the UK... The only beneficiaries of UK litigation will be the lawyers."
London-based Leigh Day said legal action related to oil spills which "experts have advised amounted to about 500,000 barrels from a Shell pipeline in 2008" and Nigerians wanted compensation for environmental damage.
"We are desperately disappointed that the attempts to negotiate a settlement for all those affected have now failed," said lawyer Martyn Day.
"We are now left with the only option of taking the claims through the UK courts to obtain justice for the people of Bodo."
A Leigh Day spokesman said spills had "devastated the environment" around Bodo, which is in the Gokana Local Government Area of the Rivers State, Nigeria.