Spanish energy major Repsol is facing a class action lawsuit in Peru over a serious oil spill that occurred in 2022, with more than 34,000 alleged victims of the spill signing onto the case.

The class action, which is managed by the Netherlands branch of London-based law firm Pogust Goodhead, is asking for a $1bn (€919.89bn) judgement. It was filed in The Hague last week. 

The lawsuit is being brought against the Repsol-owned La Pampilla oil refinery, Repsol Peru and Repsol S.A, Pogust said in a press statement on Friday. It added that the victims involved in the claim include local businesspeople affected by the prolonged impacts of the spill, such as fishermen and restaurant owners.

“This is one of Peru’s worst environmental disasters and we will fight for justice for the victims,” ​​the law firm’s CEO Tom Goodhead said.

The oil spill, which occurred on 15 January 2022 just north of Lima, Peru, saw the equivalent of 10,000 barrels of oil released into the Pacific Ocean as it was being discharged from the La Pampilla refinery. At the time, it was labelled by then-President Pedro Castillo as “one of the largest ecocides… on our coasts and sea”.

Two weeks after the spill, Peru’s environment ministry temporarily suspended Repsol’s offshore oil unloading operations. Environment Minister Ruben Ramirez said the suspension of operations would last until the company “can offer technical guarantees that another spill will not happen”.

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By GlobalData

The class action lawsuit is the second major case brought against Repsol in response to the spill. In August 2022, Peru’s consumer protection agency sued the company for $4.5bn for damage to the environment and local people.

Repsol had initially said the spill was caused by “sudden and extraordinary anomalous waves produced by the volcanic eruption in Tonga” but later blamed the tanker transporting the oil.

The company denied responsibility for the disaster at the time. In response to the latest class action, Repsol said in a statement it considers the lawsuit to have “no basis”.