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China to Sue ConocoPhillips for Oil Leaks

(Xinhua)

13:30, August 17, 2011

China's maritime authority on Tuesday confirmed that it will sue companies responsible for oil leaks in the Bohai Bay.

The State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said in a statement that the oil spill in the Penglai 19-3 oil-field developed by ConocoPhillips China caused damage to China's oceanic ecological system, and the North China Sea branch of the SOA will, on behalf of the country, file lawsuits against companies responsible for the leaks.

The administration also dismissed a report by the Economic Information Daily that said China is demanding compensation of at least 100 million yuan ($15.6 million) from the company for the leaks, claiming the amount was not determined yet.

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.

Pollutants were later found near the Penglai 19-3 platform C during the company's clean-up work.

The company said Friday in a statement on its website that a total of 2,500 barrels of oil and mud leaked from the company's platforms in the bay.

Cui Wenlin, director of North China Sea Environment Monitoring Center, was quoted by the Economic Information Daily as saying that as the leaks were not from a specific source, such as oil tanks, pipelines, or offshore platforms, they were quite difficult to spot or block.

Besides, Cui said, the ecological implications to the Bohai Bay will be lasting.

Seafood in the Bohai Bay are still safe to eat for the time being, but if the pollution exacerbates, stakes will be higher for seafood to be polluted, or even carcinogenic, Cui said.

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

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