Oil spill clean-up declared inadequate
US oil and gas company ConocoPhillips has done little to clean up an oil spill in the Bohai Sea more than two months after it was first reported, an investigation by the State Oceanic Administration has found.
'ConocoPhillips has made certain efforts in response to the developing oil-spill emergency, meeting the requirement to halt production on Platforms B and C, but its action has been slow in meeting the State Oceanic Administration's request for 'double thoroughness',' the administration said in a statement.
'Up to the present, all that has been implemented are a few temporary measures, and [the company] has failed to honour its promises to ... 'ensure oil does not wash ashore and to ensure no impact on sensitive environmental areas'. It has also not met demands to remove oil from the surface of the sea and oil-laden mud from the sea floor.'
The administration's criticism coincided with news that scallop farmers in Hebei were planning to sue the oil company after most of their shellfish died suddenly.
The scallop farmers, from Laoting county, about 100 kilometres east of Tianjin, said that by mid-July about 70 per cent of their stocks had died as a result of the pollution, at an estimated cost of 300 million yuan (HK$363 million), the Oriental Morning Post reported yesterday.
The first oil spillage in the Bohai Sea - a semi-enclosed gulf on the Yellow Sea - occurred on June 4, with the second spill taking place on June 17.
The oil company's initial delay in reporting the spillages for more than a month triggered public anger.
The first oil began washing ashore on two beaches 170 kilometres from the platforms on June 20.
ConocoPhillips ceased production on the two platforms, part of the Penglai 19-3 oilfield jointly owned with China National Offshore Oil Corporation, early last month.
However, in a second statement also released on Friday, the oceanic administration stated that intermittent oil leaks were continuing.
About 900 square kilometres of sea is affected, though the worst pollution is confined to less than 1 square kilometre, it said.
The oil company has been ordered to pay the maximum legal penalty of 200,000 yuan, but maritime experts have suggested the final compensation bill could be far higher.