US oil company ConocoPhillips admitted another seven new oil leaks in Bohai Bay have been found, making it a total of 16 spills since June at platform C of the Penglai 19-3 oilfield, confirmed the North China Sea Branch of the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) on Friday.
With oil spilling out and oil slicks floating on the sea surface near platform C, the SOA has supervised as ConocoPhillips collects 387 cubic meters of spilled oil, which accounts for 96.87 percent of the total oil spill from the platform.
But, seawater nearby the platform still contains a high concentration of petroleum, and is below first class seawater quality, according to a statement released by the SOA on Thursday.
ConocoPhillips China is facing legal action from the SOA for damage to a total of 5,500 square kilometers of Bohai Bay.
Liu Cigui, head of the SOA, referred to the spills as the “worst oceanic environmental accident” in Chinese history and urged the company to investigate the accident thoroughly and cut off the spill sources completely, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The US company blamed the spill on a natural fault in the seabed last month.
“That is only an excuse, the company is supposed to find the natural fault before leakage,” said Gao Shu, director of the School of Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences at Nanjing University.
The oil spill is an operational accident that could have been avoided, Gao said.
President of ConocoPhillips China, George Storaker, said the leaks have been permanently fixed, but the SOA said on Thursday that the oil collecting system used on the leak is not permanent.
“The company pursues maximized profits rather than a 100 percent clean up of the spills. A permanent block costs much more than a temporary oil collecting system,” Gao told the Global Times on Friday.
Zhao Zhangyuan, a researcher with the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, told the Global Times the continued emergence of new leaks proves ConocoPhillips is irresponsible.
“Such oil spills will bring serious damage to the surrounding marine environment and the interests of offshore fishermen. Such a company doesn’t deserve a second chance after this accident,” Zhao said.
Cofounded by ConocoPhillips and State-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), ConocoPhillips China runs China’s largest offshore field – the Penglai 19-3 oilfield – whose daily average output is expected to reach 60,000 barrels per day this year, according to ConocoPhillips China.
Holding 51 percent of ConocoPhillips China’s shares, CNOOC said it will further supervise and assist ConocoPhillips to clean the spills up on Friday. It also vowed to strengthen safety at its oilfields and to bear responsibility for the damage inflicted on the environment according to Chinese law, Xinhua reported.