Peru plans to impose sanctions on Spanish energy company Repsol over massive oil spill

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Peruvian Prime Minister Mirtha Vásquez said on Monday the government was considering sanctioning a major local refinery owned by Spanish energy company Repsol after an oil spill last week, and did not rule out suspending operations at the facility.

Vásquez said some political parties were calling on the government to cancel the Pampilla refinery contract or even expropriate it following the disaster, but said options were still being explored.

“We are evaluating the legal aspects, we still cannot say whether a license is going to be suspended or not,” she told local radio RPP.

“Much will depend on the assessment we make of the legal conditions under which the company operates and the type of sanctions or offenses committed.”

The oil spill, blamed on unusual waves triggered by a volcanic eruption in Tonga more than a week ago, affected an area of ​​up to 9 million square meters, the government said. It has been called an “ecological disaster”.

The Repsol Pampilla refinery accounts for more than half of Peru’s refining capacity.

Vásquez said that in addition to sanctions against Repsol and demands for the restoration of affected areas, prosecutors are investigating the case for alleged environmental crimes and the state is assessing compensation for those affected.

“They can’t pretend they’re not responsible. They are, and therefore they have to think about the consequences,” she said.

Repsol Peru President Jaime Fernández-Cuesta said on Sunday evening that the refinery could have reacted more quickly and that it was not until the day after the spill that it learned the full extent of the disaster.

Hundreds of people marched on Sunday to protest against Repsol over the spill, reaching the vicinity of the refinery in the district of Ventanilla, located north of the city of Lima.

(Reuters)

Edward K. Thompson