Peruvian government and Repsol correct estimated oil spill size to over 10,000 barrels

Lima-Peru’s Ministry of the Environment and Repsol SA increased the estimated size of the Pacific oil spill at the company’s refinery to more than 10,000 barrels on Friday. This is significantly larger than the initial estimate of 6,000 barrels.

Repsol said the oil spill was calculated to be equivalent to 10,396 barrels in response to the government’s revised estimate of 12,000 barrels of oil spill.

The Spanish company faced widespread backlash against the spill that occurred near the capital Lima on January 15. President Pedro Castillo of Peru called it the greatest ecological disaster affecting the country in recent years.

Repsol added that 35 percent of the spilled oil has already been recovered.

Epoch Times Photo
Workers clean up an oil spill after an underwater volcanic eruption in Tonga, Ancon, Peru, on January 25, 2022. (Pilar Olivares / Reuters)

Earlier that day, a Peruvian judge banned four Repsol executives from leaving the country for 18 months as prosecutors were investigating the cause of the oil spill.

The quartet includes Peruvian chief of Repsol, Jaime Fernandez Questa. An executive lawyer said he would not appeal the decision and would cooperate in the investigation.

The spill occurred at Repsol’s La Pampira refinery. The company accused the company of anomalous waves caused by a large volcanic eruption in Tonga, thousands of kilometers away.

A spokeswoman for La Pampilla said the company was not responsible for the spill and accused the Peruvian Navy of not issuing a tsunami warning after the underwater explosion in Tonga triggered a tsunami warning across the Pacific Ocean.

La Pampilla is Peru’s largest refinery, accounting for 54% of its refinery capacity.

Prosecutor Tamara Gonzalez said executives did not comply with their “functional responsibility” after the oil spill on January 15 polluted the coastline up to 140 km (87 miles).

In a statement, Repsol said, “We will continue to cooperate fully with all criminal investigations” related to the spill.

Prosecutors say they will be sentenced to at least four to six years’ imprisonment for environmental damage.

Peru’s Environmental Assessment and Enforcement Agency (OEFA) said Thursday that Repsol had begun a process of imposing fines of up to $ 4.8 million, failing to meet deadlines to identify affected areas.

In a recent statement, Repsol said about 2,000 people had cleared up the damage with the help of 119 heavy equipment on land, 11 floating tanks and 52 boats.

Marco Aquino and Marcelo Rochabrunn