Peru Imposes Addition $6M in Fines on Repsol for Jan. 2022 Oil Spill

Repsol fined
Peru imposed additional fines on Repsol for the January 2022 oil spill the fouled the coastline (OEFA)

Published Jan 5, 2023 6:49 PM by The Maritime Executive

Peru’s Environmental Assessment and Enforcement Agency (OEFA) announced nearly a year after one of the worst oil spills in the country’s history that is imposing nearly an additional $6 million in fines against Repsol as part of the long-running battle between the government and oil company over the response to the oil spill. Previously, Peru has imposed approximately $11.95 million in fines against Repsol while also filing suit for $4.5 billion in what it called the first civil liability for claims against Repsol while also pursuing possible criminal charges against the management of the refinery or the captain of the tanker involved in the January 15, 2022 incident when the oil tanker Mare Doricum released approximately 6,000 barrels of crude oil during an offshore unloaded operation.

The government agency, which is part of Peru’s Ministry of the Environment, imposed three new fines on Repsol's La Pampilla SAA Refinery. Announced on January 4, the fines total more than 22 million Peruvian Soles (approximately $5,856,635) for a series of administrative offenses related to the spill.

The spill occurred according to the company while the tanker was in the process of transferring oil at an offshore mooring buoy. Respol contends the tanker was struck by unusually high waves that were caused by a volcanic eruption on the island of Tonga and a resulting tsunami. Repsol argues that it has used all the means at its disposal to contain, clean, and remedy the coastline and help the communities in the area. By the government’s estimates, 28 beaches across 75 nautical miles of coastline were impacted.

Political leaders were quick to criticize Repsol contending that the company was slow to react and also falsely underestimated the extent of the spill. It has been argued that Repsol could have shut down the operation or anticipated the potential impact of the waves. 

The largest three fines announced this week, approximately $4.8 million of the total, is for “non-compliance with an administrative measure referring to securing the area, carrying out containment, recovery, and cleaning in the bay area of the Protected Natural Areas.” The second one related also to securing and containing the waters as well as a failure to carry out the verification sampling of the water and sediments a week after the first spill. The smallest portion was for not submitting the required information to the OEFA, given a situation of environmental damage on January 15, 2022.

OEFA said in announcing the new fines that it has determined the administrative responsibility. To date, they highlighted that the agency has imposed six fines in the framework of the seven disciplinary administrative procedures initiated against Repsol. The company has already contested three of the procedures and has till this month to contest three more of the cases.

OEFA said it will continue to report on the environmental control actions carried out in relation to the oil spill in Ventanilla. After the spill, Peru initially ordered Repsol to suspend operations at the refinery. The order required Repsol to submit a new spill management plan and obtain regulatory approval before reopening its marine terminals for receiving.