Paper presented at: PAJ International Oil Spill Symposium, 2007 "Oil Spill Risks, Old and New", 22 & 23 February 2007, Tokyo, Japan
Following the sinking of the tanker PRESTIGE in the Atlantic Ocean in 2002, a consortium headed by the Spanish oil company, REPSOL, designed and implemented a system for the removal of 13,000 tonnes of the vessel's remaining cargo of heavy fuel oil from a depth of some 3,650 metres, some 170 nautical miles off the Spanish coast. This was a remarkable engineering achievement, accomplished without further loss of oil and introduced the possibility that oil could be recovered from sunken wrecks in very deep water under most circumstances. Nevertheless, the IOPC Fund's Executive Committee judged that while the costs of some of the preparatory work should be met, the claim presented by the Spanish Government for the cost of the operation to remove the oil itself was inadmissible. This paper examines the criteria drawn upon by the Executive Committee to reach this decision and how the circumstances of the SOLAR 1 sinking in the Philippines allowed the Committee to reach a different conclusion.