Liner companies settle with pipeline after 2021 oil spill

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by Emily Atkins

The two shipping companies whose ships’ anchors caused a pipeline to leak off the California coast in 2021 have agreed to pay US$96.5 million in damages.

Amplify Energy Corp. announced it reached a settlement of its claims against the MSC vessel M/V Danit, the COSCO-owned M/V Beijing, as well as the COSCO marine entities and the Marine Exchange.

In the incident, in October 2021, the two ships were said to have dragged anchor during a storm and ruptured the Amplify pipeline. The pipeline, which carried crude oil from offshore drilling platforms to the shore, leaked 25,000 (94,635 liters) of crude into the ocean.

The incident was partially blamed on container ship backlogs at the Ports of of Los Angeles and Long Beach forced the ships to wait at anchor before berthing to unload.

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company said its agreement to settle is not an admission of liability in the incident. The shipping line maintains that the responsibility for the oil spill lies with Amplify, which pleaded guilty to criminal negligence for its role and ensuing damages stemming from the oil spill.

“MSC will continue to demonstrate in the remaining legal proceedings with Amplify’s insurers that its ship was not responsible for the October 2021 oil spill, that its vessel maneuvered correctly, and that the ultimate responsibility lies with Amplify,” MSC said in a statement.

“Despite becoming aware of increased marine traffic and associated risks in 2020, Amplify took insufficient measures to protect the pipeline which was under its management and control and greatly exacerbated the situation by failing to properly respond to eight separate leak detection alarms on the day of the rupture, thus spreading the environmental pollution by magnitudes,” MSC added.

MSC pointed out in its statement that, as the world’s largest ocean carrier, it “recognizes the unique and consequential role that we play, which is why we remain committed to being a trusted steward of our world’s oceans.”