China races to prevent oil slick spreading to open sea

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The oil pipeline blasts in Dalian last Friday have affected refined oil supplies in southern China but oil prices there will not climb as a result, industry analysts said Tuesday.

Chinese petroleum companies have had to reduce oil shipments from Dalian to southern Chinese provinces because the port had been partly closed since the incident.

On Tuesday, authorities lifted a partial ban on maritime traffic at Dalian. But local officials said oil shipments from Dalian would not be immediately restored.

PetroChina's north-to-south oil shipments from Dalian port -- usually 30,000 to 50,000 tonnes per day -- have been affected, said Chu Jiewang, an analyst at Shanghai-based C1 Energy Co. Ltd., a leading oil industry information provider.

Southern China refineries have scaled back operations while at least three China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) subsidiaries have reduced sales of refined oil in southern provinces, Xinhua was told.

The Maritime Affairs Administration of Liaoning Province reported that the berths in Dalian City have fully re-opened to traffic as of 5 p.m. Tuesday as waterways affected by the oil slick have largely been cleaned up.

Authorities said they have directed about 420 vessels away during the past four days due to shipping restrictions since the spill.

The incident happened when two crude pipelines exploded last Friday evening in Xingang Port in northeast China's Dalian City after a 300,000 tonne oil ship had unloaded its oil. The tanker left the harbor safely.

The amount of leaked oil remained unclear Wednesday.

An investigation team was formed Sunday to find out the cause of the incident. But no results have been released yet.

From June to late August fishing in the waters out from Dalian City is not allowed. Cao Chenglin, a Dalian fisherman, said his boat was too small to join the oil spill clean-up, but he worried if he would be able catch any fish when the season opened.

"It's heartbreaking. Hopefully the oil spill can cleaned up as soon as possible, " Cao said.

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