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Natural gas pipeline leak caused by sand dredging: CNOOC

(Xinhua)

12:59, December 30, 2011

ZHUHAI, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- CNOOC, China's largest offshore energy explorer, said Friday that the leak in its natural gas pipeline in Zhuhai, a city in south China's Guangdong province, two weeks ago was caused by mechanical sand dredging.

Gao Guangsheng, vice general manager of CNOOC's Shenzhen branch, said the damaged part of the pipeline detected by divers showed it had been damaged by machinery.

The leak was detected on Dec. 19 by fishermen in the sea about 12 kilometers from CNOOC's natural gas terminal in Zhuhai.

"Sand dredging in the sea area is illegal. We hope the Zhuhai municipal government can investigate the illegal activities," said Gao.

The company moved quickly to conduct active pressure venting by pumping nitrogen to replace natural gas in the pipeline. No sea pollution has been reported since the leak was spotted, said Qiu Daqing, a CNOOC gas field manager.

The pipeline suspension caused a daily loss of natural gas output equivalent to 27,000 barrels of oil, which is meant to supply the city of Zhongshan in Guangdong province.

"The repair work is difficult, as workers need to separate the sea water in order to fix the pipeline," he said.

He did not say when the repair work would be finished.

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