ConocoPhillips: quick response to China oil spill

BEIJING (AP) — American energy giant ConocoPhillips on Wednesday defended its response to a pair of oil leaks off China’s northeast coast, saying it acted quickly to contain damage caused by the spills and that cleanup work is almost finished.

The remarks were in response to an announcement by China’s State Oceanic Administration on Tuesday that it was investigating the company’s role in last month’s spills and assessing possible damage to the environment.

Environmental group Greenpeace said it was disappointed that it took at least two weeks for the government and company officials to go public about the spills — which the government said had spread over 840 square kilometers (324 square miles) of Bohai Bay.

Local reports have cited complaints of dead fish, though they said it was unclear if the deaths were caused by the oil. They also have contended that authorities and the company failed to provide enough information on the accident.

The first oil leak at Penglai 19-3 oil field in Bohai Bay on June 4 was a “sheen associated with a slow, intermittent seep” that was traced to a natural fault in the seabed, ConocoPhillips said in a statement, adding that the seepage had stopped.

The second oil spill, on June 17, started from a leak in an existing well and was repaired within 48 hours, it said.

“Currently there is no oil sheen in the Bohai Bay operating area, the source of the sheen has been contained and clean up work is close to completion,” the company said. “There have been no injuries. No reports of the sheen migrating to the shoreline.”

It said that in both instances, the company quickly reported the leaks to Chinese authorities and that it deployed equipment and staff to clean up the spill.

The State Oceanic Administration said 3,000 meters (3,300 yards) of sea booms and other devices were deployed to help clean up the spill and the limited amount of oil on the surface as of Monday suggested no significant leaks.

The Penglai 19-3 oil field, China’s largest offshore field, was jointly developed by ConocoPhillips China and state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp. The operator of the field is ConocoPhillips China.

The spill has raised concern over potential long-term impact to the area’s very active fisheries industry. Greenpeace said the delay in reporting the oil spills to the public was disappointing and urged the government and companies involved to provide more information on the environmental damage caused by the leaks.

“So far the information from the administration isn’t comprehensive enough for us to judge how much impact it actually can bring,” said Li Yan, climate and energy campaign manager at Greenpeace.

China’s worst reported oil spill occurred nearly a year ago, when a pipeline at Dalian, a busy northeastern port, exploded and oil poured into the sea, spreading over at least 165 square miles (430 square kilometers).


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