A Spanish court has opened proceedings to determine if energy firm Repsol was responsible for oil spillages when it prospected the Mediterranean last year, according to Spanish media reports.

Citing legal sources, newspaper El Pais said the court in the town of Tarragona will seek to determine if US firm Pride of North America, which managed the rig contracted for the drilling, was responsible.

A Repsol spokesman could not immediately confirm if the court had begun proceedings, but said the spillage had been limited, reports Reuters.

El Pais quoted a Repsol official as saying that the amount of crude spilled was “minimal, as the authorities did not even activate contingency plans”.

The paper said Repsol had already paid €250,000 ($305,900) in compensation last year to fishermen for spillages from the Montanazo D-5 and Lubina-1 wells, which lie 45km (28 miles) offshore Tarragona.

Repsol has conducted oil exploration in Mediterranean waters since the 1970s.