China to sue oil giant over spill damages

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China's ocean watchdog on Tuesday confirmed that it will sue US oil company ConocoPhillips responsible for oil leaks off China's northeast coast.

A ship cleans up the leaking oil near the platform C in the Bohai Sea, China.[CFP]

A ship cleans up the leaking oil near the platform C in the Bohai Sea, China.[CFP] 

The State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said in a statement that the North China Sea branch of the SOA will, on behalf of the country, file lawsuits demanding for compensation over the oil spill.

ConocoPhillips may face compensation demands far higher than the 200,000 yuan (US$31,000) penalty.

At least100 million yuan (15.6 million U.S. dollars) are expected since the leaking oil have put severe impact on the oceanic ecological system, the Economic Information Daily reported on Tuesday.

If the pollution continues, the amount of the payment would be increased as well.

The SOA plans to introduce a major policy for seeking the compensation from ConocoPhillips China, the operator of two leaking oil platforms in Bohai Bay.

ConocoPhillips China, a subsidiary of U.S. energy giant ConocoPhillips, first reported spills to authorities in June. The oil spills have spread to beaches in Hebei and Liaoning provinces. The spills have been blamed for losses in the provinces' tourism and aquatic farming industries.

An area of 3,400 square km in the Bohai Bay has been affected by the spills, with the area's water quality rating slipping from level I to levels III and IV, the North China Sea Branch of the SOA said in a press release.

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