Court receives evidence in $24 million 2011 Bohai Bay oil spill lawsuit

By Deng Xiaoci Source:Global Times-Agencies Published: 2016/12/28 14:38:39

A maritime court in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province received evidence Wednesday in connection with the oil spill in Bohai Bay in a multi-million yuan lawsuit against multinational oil and gas producer ConocoPhillips and State-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

A total of 85 fishermen from Muping district and another 120 from Changdao county, Yantai, Shandong Province are suing ConocoPhillips and CNOOC for 170 million yuan ($24.4 million).

The court did not decide on the case today, Guo Chengxi, the plaintiffs' attorney, told the Global Times on Wednesday, adding that both sides applied for a postponement in presenting evidence, with the next hearing at least two months from now.

Seven of the Yantai fishermen attended the Wednesday hearing.

The oil spill took place in June 2011 at the Penglai 19-3 oil field, which was being jointly developed by ConocoPhillips and CNOOC.

In September 2011, ConocoPhillips was ordered to suspend its operations in the bay, following a series of oil spills in the oil field in June that year. The spills were called "severe accidents" by the State Oceanic Administration as they had tainted more than 6,200 square kilometers of water, about 10 percent of Bohai Bay.

In October 2015, a maritime court in North China's Tianjin Municipality ordered ConocoPhillips to pay 1.68 million yuan to 21 fishermen from North China's Hebei Province, who claimed their fishing interests and livelihood were severely damaged by the 2011 oil spill, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

In 2012, Chinese authorities reached a settlement with the two companies granting affected fishermen a total of 1 billion yuan. The 21 fishermen did not join the settlement process and filed their lawsuit on December 30, 2011, the report said.  

The Tianjin court exempted CNOOC from paying the 21 fishermen because it said CNOOC was not in charge of operating the oilfield, Xinhua said.

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