Peru sues Repsol over oil spill, seeks US$4.5 billion damages

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Peru sues Repsol over oil spill, seeks US$4.5 billion damages

LIMA: Peru has brought a lawsuit against Spanish energy company Repsol over the massive oil spill that ravaged its coast in January, seeking US $4.5 billion in damages.

The lawsuit was brought in a civil court in Lima against six companies: Repsol Spain Mapfre Global Risks Spain Mapfre Peru Insurance and Reinsurance Companies Peru La Pampilla Refinery Peru Transtotal Maritime Agency Peru and Fratelli d'amico Armatori Italy, owner of the tanker involved in Peru's consumer protection agency.

According to Julian Palacin, executive director of the National Institute for the Defense of Competition and Protection of Intellectual Property INDECOPI, these suits could create precedents for oil spills that cause damage and collective non-material damages due to environmental pollution of coastal areas.

The suit says that INDECOPI sought three billion dollars for environmental damage to Peru's coast, and another 1.5 billion dollars as compensation to consumers, locals and others affected by the disaster.

Repsol defended the suit in a statement Saturday, rejecting it as baseless.

The Spanish oil company said that INDECOPI's estimates are not the bare minimum needed to support the indicated figures for the US $4.5 billion sought by Peru.

The oil company attributed the incident to waves caused by a massive volcanic eruption on the island of Tonga, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, and the Peruvian government described it as an ecological disaster. More than 700,000 residents, mostly fishermen, were affected by the oil spill, which forced the closure of twenty beaches and dozens of businesses in the area.