China Spill: ConocoPhillips Finds New Cluster

Friday, August 26, 2011 @ 11:08 AM gHale

The hits just keep coming for ConocoPhillips in China as the U.S.-based oil giant discovered 16 oil leaks from spills at its Penglai 19-3 oil field in the Bohai Bay that began in June. That is seven more than they thought.

The seven additional leaks “are part of a cluster of finger-diameter seeps that have been there since June 17, said John Roper, a spokesman for ConocoPhillips.”Divers are only recently able to see them after cleaning away additional mineral oil-based mud from the sea floor.”

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Of the 16 leaks, 12 are no longer visible and are not seeping, leaving four open leaks, two of which are releasing about one to two liters a day of oil, Roper said.

Meanwhile, as a result of the oil leaks and ensuing environmental damages, China said it will sue the American oil company as soon as next week over the 2-month-old oil spill.

The government’s maritime regulator plans to file the suit as soon as it has chosen a legal team from among 49 applying law firms. It said the State Oceanic Administration hopes to act before the end of this month.

The spill has fouled 840 square kilometers of water in Bohai Bay, east of Beijing, and caused more than $23 million in damage, mainly to the fishing industry, Chinese officials said.

ConocoPhillips has been operating in the bay, which contains China’s largest offshore oil field, in partnership with CNOOC Limited, China’s largest offshore oil company.

Georg Stoker, the president of ConocoPhillips China Inc. said the company has permanently sealed the original source of the oil leak and is on track to complete a cleanup of the area by the end of the month. However he did say small amounts of oil are still escaping into the bay.

Earlier in the week Stoker did apologize for the spill, which occurred in early to mid-June.

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