China has established a regulatory agency to manage compensation from oil spills.
The commission, comprising multipartite government departments, will preside over a statutory-managed compensation fund of more than USD51 million, paid into by ship owners and shippers.
Beijing has put in place the commission to support its recently strengthened Environmental Protection Law and to administer spill cases.
The transport ministry – represented on the commission – has been the prime administrator of compensation until now and is currently processing 14 spill claims for which almost USD27 million from the fund has been set aside for potential compensation payouts.
Chinese and foreign ship owners have long lobbied Beijing for clearer direction and more transparency in the handling of oil spill claims.
The new commission goes some way to satisfying the industry’s requests, but owners and shippers will still be subject to China’s complex and unpredictable courts system.
The transport ministry said the commission has opened a centre in Shanghai’s Hongkou District to accept applications from claimants for oil spill compensation.