ConocoPhillips' spill cleanup measures "ineffective"

Xinhua, August 17, 2011

China's maritime authority on Wednesday once again urged ConocoPhillips China, a subsidiary of the U.S-based oil company ConocoPhillips, to take effective measures to contain oil spills and clean up oil-contaminated mud in the Bohai Bay before September.

The measures taken by ConocoPhillips China so far are only temporary and cannot effectively eliminate the risks of more spills, the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said in a statement Wednesday.

ConocoPhillips China previously reported two oil spills coming from the platforms to authorities in June. It was told by the SOA to contain the oil spill originating from its B platform and recover oil-contaminated mud from its C platform in the Penglai 19-3 oilfield in the Bohai Bay before September.

However, oil slicks found earlier this month near the platforms led to suspicions that the company has made little progress in checking for potential oil spill sources and preventing more spills.

The company later admitted that a new oil spill source was located on the B platform and a total of 2,500 barrels of oil and mud have leaked from the platforms so far.

The SOA said in the statement that so far ConocoPhillips China has not completely contained the oil spill originating from its B platform. And neither can it explain for the new oil spill source in the B platform and newly-discovered oil-contaminated mud near the C platform.

The oil spills have spread to beaches in the nearby provinces of Hebei and Liaoning and have been blamed for losses in the provinces' tourism and aquatic farming industries.

The ecological implications for the Bohai Bay will be long-lasting, Cui Wenlin, director of the North China Sea Environment Monitoring Center, said in a recent interview with the Economic Information Daily newspaper.

Seafood originating from Bohai Bay is still safe to eat for the time being, but if the bay experiences more spills, it is possible that seafood originating from the bay might become contaminated, Cui said.

The SOA confirmed on Tuesday that it will sue companies that have been found to be responsible for oil leaks that have damaged the country's coastline environments. The SOA did not specify how much it would sue the companies for.

Oil-drilling operations in the field are conducted by ConocoPhillips China in cooperation with the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), the country's largest offshore oil producer.