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ConocoPhillips admits discovery of new oil spill source in China's Bohai Bay

(Xinhua)

12:57, August 13, 2011

QINGDAO, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- ConocoPhillips China, a subsidiary of the U.S-based oil company ConocoPhillips, admitted that a new oil spill source has been found from the company's platforms in China's Bohai Bay, China's maritime authorities said Friday.

The company previously denied that there were any new spills coming from its platforms in the Penglai 19-3 oilfield in the bay, the North China Sea branch of the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said.

The new leak was first suspected by an investigatory team sent by the SOA branch when they spotted a new oil slick on the surface of the bay.

ConocoPhillips China said the new spill source is located at its Platform B, just 10.8 meters away from a previous leak at the platform. It admitted that it failed to rule out potential oil spill sources during previous clean-up efforts, according to the SOA.

The SOA branch said that ConocoPhillips China has made little progress in checking for potential oil spill sources and preventing more spills.

The company previously reported to authorities two oil spills in the platforms B and C of the Penglai 19-3 oilfield in June.

ConocoPhillips China said Friday in a statement on its website that a total of 2,500 barrels of oil and mud have leaked from the company's platforms in the bay so far, but it failed to mention whether the spillage included the oil from the new leak.

The SOA asked ConocoPhillips last weekend to explain why it failed to clean up the mess in a timely fashion and urged it to make an apology.

The company said the reason that it missed a deadline for recovering oil-contaminated mud on Sunday was partly due to technical problems and typhoons, but it is yet to apologize.

The company canceled a press conference scheduled on Friday. There was no mentioning of the new oil spill source on its website by press time.

According to its official website, 70 percent of the contaminated mud has been recovered as of Thursday, with the clean-up efforts scheduled to be completed by the end of this month.

The oil giant said it has recovered 1,700 barrels of oil-contaminated mud, as well as 440 barrels of oil from the surface.

The Penglai 19-3 oilfield is China's largest offshore oilfield, with daily production of about 160,000 barrels. ConocoPhillips holds a 49-percent stake in the field, while its Chinese partner, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has 51 percent.

ConocoPhillips has deployed 900 employees and 33 vessels to clean up the leak.

"We will cooperate closely with CNOOC to minimize the impact of the oil leak on the environment and try our best to finish the clean-up work by the end of August," the company said.

However, the SOA branch said ConocoPhillips China has yet to come up with a detailed, reliable clean-up plan for the spills.

The oil spills have been seen spreading to beaches in north China's provinces of Hebei and Liaoning since June. The spills have been blamed for losses in the provinces' tourism and aquatic farming industries.

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