Four months after an estimated 6000 barrels of crude spilled from the Mare Doricum tanker near the coast of Peru, the country’s government is backing its national legal agency in suing Spanish company Repsol for $4.5 billion.

Peru’s government said in a statement that 700,000 people were affected by the spill, along with their businesses in tourism and fishing around Ventanilla, Callao, located just north of the capital Lima.

The government said the estimated damages exceed $3 billion, along with collective non-material damages of $1.5 billion.

Repsol has consistently claimed the oil spill was uncontrollable, the result of a tsunami from a volcanic eruption and landslide in Tonga, and said it was taking its own steps toward remediation.

The Spanish producer said it mobilised more than 2900 workers to clean up the spill and has paid nearly $8 million to the 5500 affected citizens it has identified.

“The cost of the containment, cleaning, and remediation of the coastline has been assumed by Repsol from the very beginning and the aid and advance payments provided allow us to reasonably calculate the number of people affected by the spill and the estimated amount of compensation for the damages. The overall amount of these items would be around $150 million,” Repsol said.

“Therefore, the claim announced by the National Institute for the Defense of Competition & Protection of Intellectual Property (INDECOPI) is baseless, inadmissible, and inconsistent, because it does not address the causes of the spill; nor the clean-up and remediation work already completed by Repsol; nor the means established by the company to attend to those affected, through collaboration with the Peruvian Government; and because its estimates lack even the slightest basis to support the figures indicated.”

INDECOPI’s lawsuit was filed before the 27th Civil Court of the Superior Court of Justice of Lima against several other defendants as well, including La Pampilla Refinery, Peruvian martime company Transtotal Maritime Agency, and Italian shipping company Fratelli d'amico Armatori.

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