The Director, Gaute Sivertsen, the Deputy Director, Liliana Monsalve, the former Director, Jose Maura, the Head of Administration Robert Owen, and the Senior Claims Manager Chiara Della Mea travelled to the Republic of Korea, from 13 to 17 June, to hold a workshop on the lessons learned in respect of the handling of the Hebei Spirit incident.
One of the most significant pollution incidents suffered by the Republic of Korea and one of the largest oil spills in the history of the IOPC Funds, the Hebei Spirit led to the submission of over 127 000 claims for compensation. A total of KRW 321.6 billion was paid to claimants under the 1992 Civil Liability and Fund Conventions by the Skuld P&I Club and the 1992 Fund.
All parties involved in the handling of the case, from the early days of the incident to the final stages, were invited to take part in a collaborative exchange to share feedback on key aspects. A number of topics were addressed with the discussions covering:
- the emergency phase, including the cooperation and network of communication between parties;
- the project management phase, including the assessment procedure and the issues faced when handling large numbers of undocumented claims or claims for small amounts, and;
- the legal proceedings phase, focusing on the difficulties encountered in that area.
The purpose of carrying out the review and capturing the lessons learned from the Hebei Spirit was to try to increase the effectiveness and efficiency in respect of the management of future major incidents, as well as to improve the current claims process wherever possible. A document identifying and analysing the lessons learned from this incident will be issued at the next meeting of the 1992 Fund Executive Committee in October 2022.
One key point highlighted by the Hebei Spirit incident is the importance of Member States ratifying the Supplementary Fund Protocol, which adds an additional layer of cover to the 1992 Fund Convention and significantly increases the amount of compensation available to victims of a spill.
The Director took the opportunity at the workshop to acknowledge the excellent collaboration between the Government of the Republic of Korea, the Skuld Club and the IOPC Funds and the outstanding work of the Claims Handling Office and the experts involved in bringing this incident to a successful conclusion.
The workshop closed with an award ceremony, during which plaques of appreciation were presented by the Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries to the two former IOPC Funds’ Directors who worked on the incident: Jose Maura and Willem Oosterveen, as well as to the Deputy Director, Liliana Monsalve, on behalf of the IOPC Funds itself. The plaques were given in honour of the close cooperation with the Government in dealing with the exceptional number of claims arising from the Hebei Spirit incident.