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Mar 03, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – The oil company responsible for the devastating oil spill in Peru has not been fulfilling its obligations in relation to the cleaning and remediation of the aftermath of the spill, specifically in the islands off the coast of Peru.
This is according to Peru’s Minister of Environment, Modesto Montoya. Montoya, the head of the Ministry of Environment (MINAM) on Tuesday supervised remediation actions in the Guaneras islands areas that were damaged by the oil spill. The minister reported that Spanish oil giant, Repsol, the company responsible for the spill has not yet started the cleanup around the islands. The Guaneras islands are a group of island off the coast of northern Peru. It consists of four islands: Isla Guañape Norte, Isla Guañape Sur, Islotes Cantores and Islotes Los Leones.
The oil spill occurred on January 15, 2022 at one of the La Pampilla refineries off the coast of Ventanilla in the region of Lima, Peru. It was reported that the spill was caused by shock waves from an undersea volcanic eruption near Tonga in the South Pacific Ocean. At the time of the undersea eruption, Suezmax tanker, Mare Doricum, was offloading a shipment of Brazilian crude oil at one of La Pampilla refinery’s offshore mooring buoys, and as such, a quantity of the cargo was released.
Repsol had underreported the quantity of crude that was spilled but later investigations by Peru’s Agency for Environmental Assessment and Control (OEFA) revealed that almost 12,000 barrels of oils had spilled – more than double the amount that was initially reported by the company.
In regards to the progress made in the cleanup and remediation of the affected areas, Minister Montoya stated that Repsol is not fulfilling its obligations to restore the environmental conditions that existed before the oil spill. “It has done absolutely nothing regarding the cleanup around the Guaneras islands,” he added.
He further stated that this must be rectified and that the cleaning up of the islands must start, especially to prevent the guano birds from dying, which are important for the biodiversity of the protected natural areas that have been damaged by the ecological disaster.
The Minister then reiterated that the operator of the La Pampilla Refinery is giving a bad example to companies, national and foreign. Moreover, as a result of Repsol not fulfilling its obligation in Peru, the Minister pledged that the Peruvian government will use all of the State’s power to prevent irresponsible companies from polluting their environment. He said that many fishermen now live in poverty because they can no longer work as before. “That must be avoided and all the power of the State must be used so that misfortunes of this nature do not repeat themselves,” he stressed.
Additionally, the Deputy Minister of Territorial Governance of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Jesús Quispe, indicated that it is a priority of the State to solve the problems that the environmental disaster has caused. “We work together to solve the problem and get the fishermen back to their routine soon,” he said.
Recently, in light of the difficulties the Peruvian government is having with Repsol, to clean-up the oil spill that contaminated their shores and water, the Minister had cited the importance of legislative reform to adequately deal with companies after oil spills.
Peru’s Agency for Environmental Assessment and Control (OEFA), an agency attached to MINAM, had reported that Repsol has paid three coercive fines of a total amount of Sol$1,380,000 (US$362,285) – the fines were for the failure to comply with three of the 14 measures ordered. Those measures are: identification of the areas affected by the spill, cleaning of the affected areas, and containment and recovery of hydrocarbons (crude).
The OEFA has also initiated sanctioning administrative procedures, where the fines can be up to Sol$55,200,000 (US$14,808,852) for Repsol – the agency had vowed to continue to impose fines against the company if it fails to comply with the 14 administrative measures issued.
Prior to the aforementioned fines being imposed against the company, this publication reported that the first periodic fine that was initiated against the Spanish oil giant, was in the sum of Sol$460,000 (US$121,500) for the non-compliance of identifying the areas affected by the oil spill.
Kaieteur News reported that following the devastating oil spill, several Peruvian officials had called for the oil company to offer compensation for the disaster.
The first action that was taken against the company was Peruvian Judge, Romualdo Aguedo on Friday, January 28, 2022 granting the order to prevent four Repsol executives from leaving the country. Peruvian media reported that Judge Aguedo imposed an 18-month ban on the grounds of the potential risk that the officials might leave Peru. Those that have been barred are refinery manager, Jaime Fernández-Cuesta Luca de Tena; terminal manager, Renzo Alejandro Tejada Mackenzie; environmental manager, Gisela Cecilia Posadas Jhong and production manager, José Gregorio Reyes Ruiz.
In taking additional steps, Peru’s former Minister of the Environment, Rubén Ramirez on Monday, January 31, 2022, revealed that the government had taken the decision to suspend the company’s hydrocarbon loading and unloading activities. In other words, Repsol’s operation in the country was halted until it can substantially prove that another oil spill will not occur again in its waters.
However, in an update it was revealed that a fuel shortage in Peru had forced the country’s OEFA to lift the suspension on Repsol’s operation temporarily. However, the company was only allowed to continue its operations for 10 days and under supervision from the OEFA. That 10 days period has since come to an end and the Peruvian government has signalled that it has other alternative sources to obtain fuel.
As the Government of Peru takes action to protect its people and its environment, Guyana in contrast, continues to give American oil giant, ExxonMobil, permission to operate without full coverage insurance to cater for such a disastrous oil spill. Just recently, ExxonMobil announced that it has commenced oil production at Guyana’s second offshore development area called Liza Phase Two in the Stabroek Block. Among the oil companies working in Guyana’s backyard is the very oil company –Repsol – that caused the oil spill in Peru.
The clean-up and remediation of approximately 12,000 barrels of crude that contaminated the shores and waters of Peru is expected to cost some US$65 million – this was announced by Repsol’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Josu Jon Imaz.
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