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MSC part of $45m settlement for 2021 Southern California pipeline spill

Image: Taken from USCG video of pipeline USCG image of damage to underwater pipeline
Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has confirmed it is part of $45m settlement for claims from October 2021 pipeline spill in California, although maintains full responsibility for the incident lies with pipeline owner Amplify Energy.

MSC said in a statement that it was part of settlement with local business owners and residents in Orange County, California by shipping companies alleged to be involved in the incident.

The MSC Danit and Cosco Beijing are accused of allowing their ships to drag anchor damaging the pipeline which led to a spill of 25,000 barrels of oil on 2 October 2021. Although the pipeline spill occurred in October 2021, the MSC vessel involved was alleged to have damaged the pipeline in January of that year.

The settlement has to be approved by the courts, and MSC said: “Additional terms of a formal settlement are still being negotiated and once reached will have to be approved by the Court.”

While MSC is part of the proposed settlement it continues to claim that pipeline owner Amplify is responsible for the spill. The company said it agreed to the joint fund proposal in order to move forward in a “positive and constructive manner”.

Last year Amplify agreed to pay $50m to residents and businesses affected by the spill which are reported to include, a Huntington Beach surf school, coastal property owners, a Seal Beach bait and tackle store, and several groups of fishing and seafood sales companies.

MSC said expert reconstruction showed its vessel had maneuvered “a reasonable and prudent manner despite adverse weather and intense marine traffic in January 2021”. The incident occurred in a period when large numbers of vessels were anchored offshore from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach due to severe congestion at the two US West Coast Gateway ports.

“MSC's investigation has revealed that the pipeline did not comply with its original permit to be built sufficiently away from the federal anchorage zone in which the MSC Danit and other ships were anchored, and that the negligent conduct of Amplify Energy including its repeated failure to take reasonable preventative steps to better protect its pipeline and detect latent damage was the true cause of the oil spill,” MSC alleged.

For its part Amplify alleges that the owners for the MSC Danit and Cosco Beijing improperly allowed their vessels to anchor in San Pedro Bay during the storm in January 2021.