Repsol to face trial in Peru for offshore oil spill

repsol oil spill peru
An oil spill caused catastrophic damage to Peru’s Pacific coast earlier this year. Photo: Shutterstock

A Peruvian judge has accepted the opening of a USD 4.5-billion compensation lawsuit against Spanish oil giant Repsol, nearly seven months after a major oil spill along Peru’s Pacific coast. Over 10,000 barrels of oil were spilled in what the Peruvian government called the worst environmental disaster to hit the vicinity of Lima in recent times.

Originally, the accident was reportedly to have been caused by waves from an underwater volcanic eruption in Tonga that hit an offshore platform. Investigators later found that an oil tanker belonging to Repsol in the La Pampilla refinery, north of the capital Lima, also had structural problems. 

The government of Peru confirmed that local courts admitted the case understanding that Repsol’s spills caused massive “damage to both Peruvians and the environment” — for that, the suit eyes USD 3 billion and USD 1.5 billion as compensation, respectively. 

The case is moved by Peru’s Protection of Intellectual Property (Indecopi), the country’s consumer protection agency, and can still be contested by the European company within the next 30 days. Julián Palacín Gutiérrez, head of Indecopi, reported “natural and legal” impacts that need accountability. 

Back in January, environmental experts said the spills caused “irreparable damages” to the Peruvian biome.