KARACHI (Reuters) – Pakistan said yesterday it would demand $1 billion in compensation from the owners of a stricken Greek tanker after the worst oil spill in the country’s history. Communications Minister Ahmed Ali told reporters the claim would be made through the Pakistan National Shipping Corp, which chartered the stricken Maltese-registered Tasman Spirit, to the Greek owners, Polembros. «We have hired the best lawyers. We are preparing for a long legal battle,» he said. «The pollution has caused immense damage to the environment. The people of Karachi have suffered a lot.» The 24-year-old vessel, carrying 67,500 tonnes of crude, ran aground on July 27 during bad weather and a high tide. Ali said about 28,500 tons of crude oil had spilled from the tanker. Environmentalists believe it will take several months to clean the oil-blackened beaches, and say the spill has harmed marine life. Ali said authorities had almost completed the removal of crude from the Tasman Spirit. «More than 37,000 tons have been drained out,» he said.