LIMA, Jan 31 (Reuters) – Peru Environmnent Minister Ruben Ramirez said on Monday that the governmment will temporarily suspend Repsol’s offshore oil unloading operations following a spill of over 10,000 barrels that has caused widespread environmental damage.
Ramirez said the suspension of operations would last until the company “can offer technical guarantees that another spill will not happen.”
“In addition, (the company) has not shown clear cleaning actions.”
A Repsol representative had no immediate comment on the government’s announcement. Repsol has said 35% of the oil spilled has already been recovered but that it will not finish cleanup tasks until late February.
The spill took place on the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of Lima on Jan. 15, which the company has blamed on unusual waves triggered by a volcanic eruption thousands of miles away in Tonga.
The Spanish company has faced widespread backlash for the spill and Peruvian President Pedro Castillo has called it the biggest ecological disaster to affect the country in recent years.
Repsol’s La Pampilla refinery is the largest in Peru and accounts for 54% of its refining capacity.
Prosecutors are weighing criminal charges against executives over the spill and successfully petitioned a judge to bar four of them, including the company president, from leaving Peru for the next 18 months.
Peru’s government has said the spill involved 11,900 barrels of oil, while the company said the number was smaller, involving 10,396 barrels.
(Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022.
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