MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company acknowledges that it intends to enter into a settlement agreement with Amplify Energy Corp. and its affiliated entities along with the Marine Exchange and the owners, operators and charterers of one other vessel in connection with the 2021 Orange County pipeline oil spill. MSC’s agreement to enter in a settlement with Amplify and the other parties is made without an admission of liability but is intended to move yet another step past the regrettable incident.
Despite its agreement to enter into the settlement, MSC nonetheless maintains that the responsibility for the October 2021 oil spill lies with Amplify, which pled 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. 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.
As previously stated, maritime experts have thoroughly investigated and reconstructed events that led up to the oil spill. These experts concluded that the MSC DANIT was not responsible for the oil spill, that the vessel maneuvered safely, and that Amplify simply failed to properly maintain and inspect the pipeline.
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The MSC DANIT was communicating with the U.S. Coast Guard and authorities in the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach on the date when claimants allege the pipeline was first damaged some nine months prior to the oil spill. Experts have further concluded that it was reasonable for the MSC DANIT to believe it had not been involved in a marine casualty reportable to the Coast Guard. Yet, Amplify’s decision to plead guilty to criminal negligence for this preventable oil spill only further corroborates expert findings that Amplify failed to take reasonable steps to detect latent damage and protect the environment from leakage from its pipeline.
The provisions of the settlement agreement which have not yet been finalized will include recognition that MSC and other parties have not admitted to any liability, preserving their rights to defend the case against Amplify’s insurers, and will require all participating parties to withdraw pending appeals, requests, and motions before the courts. It will further mandate that both Amplify and MSC release all claims of any kind prior to the agreement of settlement in relation to issues arising from the 2021 Orange County Oil Spill.
Since 1970, MSC has worked to foster international trade and economic activity by providing transportation solutions which have brought measurable benefits to the people of the world. Since 1985, MSC has served the U.S. market and will proudly continue to do so for years to come. As the world’s largest ocean carrier, MSC 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.