Containers from the stricken ship are washing up on Mount Maunganui beaches.
Containers from the stricken ship are washing up on Mount Maunganui beaches. Bay of Plenty Times

Company pledges NZ oil clean-up cash

THE Mediterranean Shipping Company has given the New Zealand Government a commitment to make a financial contribution to help with the oil clean-up operation.

The company, which chartered the Rena from Costamare, met with New Zealand Transport Minister Steven Joyce this morning.

The company's view is that they were not legally liable, but Mr Joyce said that was an ongoing issue.

"They gave the assurance that they were very concerned and upset about what happened, that they considered themselves a longstanding member of the New Zealand community," Mr Joyce said after the meeting.

"And they also gave a commitment that they would assist with the clean-up ... My understanding is they will make some financial contribution, and the amount is for them to assess in terms of their reputation in this country and the way New Zealanders feel about what has happened.

"I've certainly encouraged them to think very carefully about that ... New Zealand companies and people they deal with would want to see them stepping up."

Mediterranean runs an active business in New Zealand and conducts about 100 port calls a year throughout New Zealand.

"We didn't talk about legal liabilities," Mr Joyce said.

"The liabilities will be determined by the lawyers. It's all wrapped up in the definitions in the Maritime Transport Act and that ... will sort itself out in due course."

Mr Joyce said the clean-up job had so far cost about $4m, and he would not be surprised if the final bill exceeded the $12.1m liability cover - depending on how much more oil leaks.

"I would expect further spills to occur at different points of this exercise, so we've got a way to go yet."

He said there may be other avenues to recover costs.

"Both the total amount and who recovers what and where is still up for discussion.

"In the wider context of the Crown accounts, it's not going to have a significant impact at this point. But it's way too early to speculate on those sorts of details."