ST. PETERSBURG, May 28 - RAPSI. The St. Petersburg and Leningrad Regional Commercial Court has suspended until June 19 its hearing of a claim to recover $15.4 million in compensation for environmental damage after an oil spill in the Kerch Strait.

Dozens of vessels crashed in the strait during a storm on November 11, 2007. Over 1,200 tonnes of mazut were spilled into the sea from the Russian Volgoneft-139 oil tanker.

The defendants in the case are the Volgotanker oil shipping company, the Ingosstrakh insurance company and the UK-based 1992 International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund.

The St. Petersburg Commercial Court started hearing the case in 2008. In August 2010, it opened separate proceedings in the Federal Service for the Oversight of Natural Resources' claim. The watchdog claimed 6 billion rubles ($189 million) in compensation for environmental damage as a result of the oil spill.

Three courts held against the claims from September 2010 to April 2011, stating that the damage was offset by the Krasnodar Civil Defense and Emergency Department, the Kerch commercial seaport, the Novorossiysk Emergency and Rescue Department and the BashVolgotanker company.