Questions and Answers

What is the purpose and function of the SOPF?

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 shipowner 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., a mystery spill.

Who may file a claim with the Administrator of the SOPF?

As provided by legislation, any person in Canada including private corporations and the Crown, may file a claim with the Administrator respecting loss, damage, costs and expenses resulting from ship‑source pollution. 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.

What was the original funding mechanism for the SOPF and how is the Fund currently maintained?

The SOPF succeeded the Maritime Pollution Claims Fund (MPCF) established in 1973. The money in the original MPCF – collected by levy on oil imported into or shipped from a place in Canada from 1972 to 1976 – was transferred to the new SOPF in 1989, a special account established in the accounts of Canada to which interest is credited monthly by the Minister of Finance.

How much money was paid out of the SOPF to settle Canadian claims during the fiscal year?

The Administrator paid some $5,134,771 towards settling Canadian claims during the year 2016-2017.

What was the SOPF balance in the special accounts of Canada on March 31, 2017?

The balance in the Fund was $404,702,173.

What is the maximum liability of the SOPF for all claims from one oil spill?

The maximum is $174,611,294 during the fiscal year commencing April 1, 2018. This amount is indexed annually.

If the Minister now reimposed a levy on shipments of contributing oil, what would be the amount of the levy?

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 statutory power to impose a levy of 52.38 cents per metric tonne of contributing oil during the fiscal year commencing April 1st, 2018. The levy is indexed annually to the consumer price index.

When did Canada become a Member State to the 1992 Civil Liability Convention (1992 CLC) and the 1992 International Oil Pollution Fund Convention (1992 IOPC Fund Convention)?

On May 29, 1999, Canada acceded to the 1992 CLC and the 1992 IOPC Fund Convention. On the same day, Canada ceased to be a Member State to the 1969 Civil Liability Convention and the 1971 IOPC Fund Convention.

How is the SOPF different from the International Conventions?

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 ships 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.

What new provisions are implemented in Chapter 21, Statutes of Canada, 2009?

As of January 2, 2010, the Fund is governed by Part 7 of the Act, contained in amendments included in Chapter 21, Statures of Canada, 2009. The new provisions implement two international instruments, namely, the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001 (Bunkers Convention) and the Protocol of 2003 to the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage, 2003 (Supplementary Fund Protocol).

What are the benefits of the two new international instruments?

The implementation of the international bunker rules in Canada requires that all ships having a gross tonnage greater than 1,000 must maintain insurance or other financial security that allows claimants for oil pollution caused by such ships to go directly against the insurer or other person providing financial security. This feature is of some significance in non-tanker spills handled by the Fund..

The Supplementary Fund Protocol provides compensation for tanker spills in addition to what is currently provided by the 1992 IOPC Fund. Canadian participation in the Supplementary Fund provides additional protection for the SOPF in case of tanker spills that cause pollution damage in Canada or in waters under Canadian jurisdiction. The total compensation package available under these international instruments is approximately $1.579 billion.

What are the benefits of being a Member State to the 1992 International Conventions?

The 1992 CLC, the 1992 IOPC Fund Convention and the Supplementary Fund provide compensation for oil pollution by persistent oil from sea-going tankers in Canadian waters and the exclusive economic zone of Canada, up to approximately $1.408 billion per incident. For such incidents the SOPF is also available as a fourth layer of cover up to approximately $175 million. The aggregate cover therefore would be approximately $1.58 billion.

How much has the SOPF paid to the International Fund since Canada first became part of the international regime in 1989?

More than $55 million – Appendix 2, Table 1 in the Administrator’s 2016-2017 Annual Report refers.

How much did the SOPF pay to the International Fund in the fiscal year 2016-2017?

$870,706 – Part 1 – section 1.2. of the Administrator’s 2016-2017 Annual Report refers.

How much has the International Regime paid out for Canadian oil spill incidents since 1989?

$11,791,848.00 was paid for costs and expenses incurred respecting the Rio Orinoco, which grounded on Anticosti Island, October 16, 1990.