Oil spills and compensation payouts totaling millions of dollars have recently been hogging the headlines worldwide. In Sri Lanka, the government has been seeking compensation for the damage to its environment caused by an oil spill from a Greek cargo ship.1 In March, Thailand’s national upstream company PTTEP lost a landmark oil spill case against a class action suit brought on behalf of 15,000 seaweed farmers who allegedly lost their livelihood due to the 2009 oil spill at the operator’s Montara field offshore Australia.2 And in Viet Nam, the Prime Minister has issued updated regulations on oil spill response that will take effect in May.3
Recognizing the importance of addressing oil pollution and compensation from ships, PEMSEA organized a virtual training workshop on April 20-22, 2021 as part of the Gulf of Thailand (GOT) Framework Programme and Strategic Action Plan 2017-2021. The training workshop was organized for the GOT countries (Cambodia, Thailand and Viet Nam) and has been expanded to include participants from the PEMSEA Network of Learning Centers (PNLC) and PEMSEA Network of Local Governments (PNLG).
“Oil spills from a ship can cause great financial losses for various sectors or individuals. It can cause damage to property and economic loss, particularly affecting local fishing or tourism industries and those sectors or individuals affected by the spill may be eligible for compensation. Hence, it is imperative that governments and communities must prepare for this eventuality,” said Ms. Aimee Gonzales, PEMSEA Executive Director.
“We hope that this training workshop will enhance better understanding on the technical aspect of claims and compensation under the different international conventions and facilitate preparation and submission of claims for compensation from oil spills,” she added. “We also hope that the workshop will guide the participants on the steps to be taken in setting up rules, administrative procedures, assessment processes, and financial mechanisms for oil pollution.”
Some 50 participants from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam are expected to attend the virtual workshop. Strategic partners and resource persons from the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited (ITOPF), International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds (IOPC Funds) and the International Group of Protection and Indemnity (P& I) Clubs are joining the workshop to share their technical expertise and experience with the countries. ITOPF and IOPC Funds have been consistent and active partners of PEMSEA in the GOT Cooperation activities and past East Asian Seas Congresses.
The three-day workshop is a component of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA). Specifically, the PROTECT Strategy promotes the Recovery of Clean Up Costs and Compensation for Damages and offers action programs that countries need to undertake to achieve this objective such as: (1) to expedite the recovery of oil spill cleanup costs and compensation for economic damage; (2) to ratify and implement CLC and FUND conventions; and (3) to ensure that national laws, administrative and eligibility procedures, and damage assessment processes are consistent with existing international oil pollution compensation regimes and the setting up of contingency plans among countries.