- Q. What is the purpose and function of the SOPF?
A. The SOPF is the Canadian fund established for the purpose of ensuring the payment of claims for marine oil pollution that originates from ships. The system is designed to cover the risk of non-payment by the ship owner who is responsible for pollution. In addition, it covers claims for damage and clean-up costs where the identity of the ship that caused the discharge of oil cannot be established - i.e. mystery spill.
- Q. Who may file a claim with the Administrator of the SOPF?
A. As provided by legislation, any person, including the Crown, may file a claim with the Administrator respecting loss, damage, costs and expenses resulting from ship-source pollution except response organizations. After the Administrator investigates and pays a claim, he has a duty to take reasonable measures to recover from the owner of the ship, or any other applicable source, the compensation paid to claimants from the SOPF.
- Q. What was the original funding mechanism for the SOPF and how is the Fund currently maintained?
A. The SOPF succeeded the Maritime Pollution Claims Fund (MPCF) established in 1973. The money in the original MPCF - collected by levy on contributing oil imported into or shipped from a place in Canada from 1972 to 1976 - was transferred to the new SOPF in 1989. The SOPF is a special account established in the accounts of Canada to which interest is credited monthly by the Minister of Finance.
- Q. How much money was paid out of the SOPF to settle Canadian claims during the fiscal year?
A. The Administrator paid some $ 565,464 towards settling Canadian claims during the fiscal year 2008-2009.
- Q. What was the SOPF balance in the special accounts of Canada on March 31, 2009?
A. The balance in the Fund was $ 380,025,462.
- Q. What is the maximum liability of the SOPF for all claims from one oil spill?
A. $ 154,392,072 during the fiscal year commencing April 1, 2009. This amount is indexed annually.
- Q. If the Minister now re-imposed a levy on shipments of contributing oil, what would be the amount of the levy?
A. First of all, no levy has been imposed for the SOPF and its predecessor MPCF since 1976. However, in accordance with the Marine Liability Act, the Minister of Transport has the statutory power to impose a levy of 46.29 cents per metric tonne of contributing oil during the fiscal year commencing April 1, 2009. The levy is indexed annually to the consumer price index.
- Q. How is contributing oil defined and if the levy is re-imposed, who would be required to pay?
A. Contributing oil is as defined by the International Fund Convention. It includes most crude oils, emulsion fuel and some finished products, but not motor gasoline and light fuel oil. The payers would include oil companies, power generating authorities, and other industries that import oil in excess of 300 tonnes into Canada by ship or ship oil from any place in Canada, in bulk as cargo.
- Q. How is the SOPF different from the International Conventions?
A. The International Conventions apply only to spills of persistent oil from sea-going tankers. The SOPF is unique in that it not only covers sea-going tankers, but it is intended to pay claims regarding oil spills from all classes of ship such as, general cargo vessels, cruise ships, ferries and other non-tankers. The SOPF covers both persistent and non-persistent oil spills. In addition, the SOPF also applies to so-called mystery spills, where the identity of the ship that caused the discharge cannot be established. A widely defined class of persons in the Canadian fishing industry may also claim for loss of income caused by an oil spill from a ship.
- Q. How much has the SOPF paid to the International Fund since Canada first became part of the international regime in 1989?
A. Approximately $ 47 million - Section 1, Figure 2 in the Administratorís 2008-2009 Annual Report refers.
- Q. How much did the SOPF pay to the International Fund in the fiscal year 2008-2009?
A. $ 5,161,013 - Section 6 in the Administratorís 2008-2009 Annual Report refers.
- Q. How much has the International Regime paid out for Canadian oil spill incidents since 1989?
A. $ 11,791,848.00 was paid for costs and expenses incurred respecting the Rio Orinoco, which grounded on Anticosti Island, October 16, 1990.