An investigation has revealed an American oil company took around 12 hours to report its pipeline was leaking thousands of litres of oil into the Pacific Ocean.

Investigators believe the pipeline may have been punctured by a ship’s anchor but the cause has not been confirmed.

A coast guard based in California has provided records showing there were two calls about a potential spill hours before Amplify Energy, the company who operates the pipeline, reported it and launched clean-up efforts.

The first call came in late Friday night of an oil sheen on the ocean and six hours later, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported the same thing.

Amplify Energy did not alert authorities until Saturday morning, with the leak spilling up to 545,000 litres of crude oil onto Californian beaches.

Amplify Energy CEO and President Martyn Willsher said the company was “not aware” of the reports about the spill on Friday night and claimed to report it as soon as it was noticed.

Californian Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Orange County due to the spill and has closed beaches and banned fishing.

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