Repsol sees “unfounded” the civil lawsuit filed against it by the Peruvian competition regulator (Indecopi), which requests compensation of 4,500 million dollars (4,320 million euros) for the oil spill that occurred on January 15 in an underwater installation of the La Pampilla refinery, owned by the Spanish oil company. The company believes that the accident that caused the spill of more than 10,000 barrels of oil off the coast was caused by a sudden displacement of the oil tanker Mare Doricum, which destroyed the hoses and the discharge system. And it has initiated, for its part, legal action against the owner of the ship and its insurer.
Indecopi announced on Friday a lawsuit for damages before a civil court of the Superior Court of Lima against all the companies involved in the spill: Repsol, the also Spanish Mapfre (and its Peruvian subsidiary), La Pampilla Refinery, Transtotal Maritime Agency and Fratelli d’Amico Armatori. This last company, of Italian origin, is the owner of the freighter Mare Doricum that transported crude oil from Brazil to Peru.
The president of the regulator, Julián Palacín, affirmed that this is the first civil lawsuit on behalf of the “diffuse interests” of 700,000 affected by the closure of beaches and spas since the beginning of the summer season, and by the prohibition of fishing, as a result of the pollution and the subsequent clean-up tasks along dozens of kilometers of the coast. In a press release, Indecopi specified that the figure not only includes those who lost their livelihoods due to the spill, but also “consumers, users and third parties.”
This Saturday, and through a press release, Repsol described the civil lawsuit as “unfounded, inadmissible and incongruous, because it does not address the causes of the spill, nor the cleaning tasks already completed, nor the channels of attention to the affected parties established by the company, through collaboration with the Peruvian Government; and because their estimates lack the slightest basis to support the figures indicated.”
The Spanish oil company insists that the environmental disaster “was caused by the uncontrolled movement of the ship Mare Doricumwhich caused the rupture of the submarine installation”, enumerates the actions undertaken to remedy the problem and underlines that, since last April 13, “it reported to the competent Peruvian authority the culmination of the first response actions in 28 areas of the north de Lima, declaring them clean, awaiting approval by the authority.
A couple of weeks after that date, however, some residents of the Santa Rosa resort —one of those affected by the oil spill— reported a fetid odor on the coast, headaches and nausea, as in the first days of the leak. Repsol workers and officials from the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Health went to check the area, after the fishermen found traces of oil buried in the sand and the contaminated sea bed.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
After Repsol’s statement, the Peruvian regulator responded with similar arguments to those put forward by the oil company: its explanations, it said, have “no legal basis, [el derrame] It hit the economy of people and markets, whose economic items revolve around beach businesses, fishing, tourism, restaurants, commerce, recreation, among others.” And he insisted the judge process the lawsuit. “We are facing strict civil liability for the risk created, and the estimated damages to the detriment of consumers would exceed 3,000 million dollars plus 1,500 million for collective non-material damage,” added the president of Indecopi.
The leak of some 12,000 barrels of crude affected, according to a report by the Ombudsman’s Office, 46 beaches and two protected natural areas in a total of 112 square kilometers of sea and coastline. The environmental disaster caused the death of 900 specimens of fauna registered by the State, and hundreds more reported by fishermen and animal volunteer groups.
Agreements with fishermen and merchants
A month after the oil spill, the company began to sign agreements with some associations of fishermen and small merchants in the seaside resorts, to whom it gave supermarket vouchers for 130 dollars, on one or two occasions. Some 4,600 people received them, according to Repsol figures. Thousands of others, however, have not yet obtained anything and hundreds of them still depend on the common pots —which emerged after the spill— to feed themselves, especially in the districts of Ventanilla, Ancón (in Callao and Metropolitan Lima) and in the province from Chancay (Lima region).
The oil company has identified some 5,500 affected, to whom it has delivered more than seven million dollars in advance for reparations, after an agreement signed in March with the Peruvian government. In said agreement, the company and the authorities of the Andean country undertook to draw up a register of victims. Several merchant and fishermen guilds then rejected the pact, as they were not consulted.