Spanish Judge Opens Criminal Investigation against Repsol

Oil Platform at Tarragona

Image Source: El Pais

Do you remember  hearing about oil spills in the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain in 2009? I don’t. If it was in the news, I must have missed it. El Pais writes today:

A court in Tarragona has opened the door for criminal prosecution against Repsol for at least two oil spills off-shore opposite the Ebro delta (Tarragona), about 40 kilometers off the Catalonian coast. The spills, that the oil company didn’t indicate to the authorities, happened in May and June 2009 during performing prospection task intended to determine the viability of two patches of submarine oil difficult to access.

The Ministry of Developement detected the spills in July of last year and the prosecutors opened an official investigation the following month, which completed appreciating evidence of a felony against the environment, according to the complaint that the judge received last week.

Read full story at El Pais (Spanish)

There was indeed something about the accident in the (Spanish) press in 2009. Also from El Pais:

After three days of willful silence, Repsol admitted yesterday its responsibility for the oil spills that its North-American subcontractor Pride kept secret from the Ministry of Developement at least two occasions in May and June. The oil company notified the Merchant Marine in a brief letter delivered 13:54 yesterday, according to the archives of that body. In the message, Repsol is asking to be included in the disciplinary proceedings because of “contractual obligations” towards Pride, which it hired to perform tasks of exploring the coast of Tarragona.

Read the full story at El Pais (Spanish)

Note: Pride is probably referring to Pride International, Inc., which is headquartered in Houston, Texas. Repsol is a Spanish oil company, the 15th largest petroleum refiner worldwide.

The oil patch data is also interesting, especially the depth:

– Name: Montanazo D-5 y Lubina-1.

– Distance from coast: 40 kilometres.

– Estimated lifetime: From 5 to 7 years.

– Expected to be operational: 2014

– Depth: 2.354 and 2.439 meters (update: this is the total depth, of which 736 m are water).

– Estimated production: Between 3,800 and 3,700 barrels of crude daily.

– Operator: Repsol (75%), Cepsa (7,3%) and others.

– Investment: 135 million euros.

2,400 meters? That’s even deeper than the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico – the one that is still gushing after 70 something days. Looks like the countries bordering the Mediterranean have been lucky (this time).

Update: The 2,400m is the total depth, with 736m of water, according to Repsol.