US Oil Firm Apologizes Over Oil Leak in Chinese Waters

Posted September 7th, 2011 at 4:00 am (UTC-5)
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U.S.-based ConocoPhillips says it will create a fund to mitigate the damage caused by an oil spill off China’s northeastern coast.

The oil giant issued a statement Wednesday saying the fund will cover the company’s responsibilities from the three-month oil leak, and to “benefit the general environment” in Bohai Bay. The company did not say how much it would contribute to the fund.

ConocoPhillips chief executive officer James Mulva apologized for the impact “the incidents have had on the Chinese people and the environment.”

Chinese regulators have ordered the company’s subsidiary, ConocoPhillips China, to halt all operations at the Peglai 19-3 oil field, the largest in the country.

About 700 barrels of oil and 2,500 barrels of drilling mud have leaked into the bay since June 4, fouling beaches and affecting the bay’s fishing and agricultural industries. The company reported last week that it had met an August 31 deadline for fully halting the leakage from the floor of the bay and completing a clean-up. But Chinese maritime authorities say they detected continued leakage after the deadline.

Chinese state television quoted a company official saying ConocoPhillips deliberately lied when it said the leak had been contained. The company denied its employee made the comment.

An article in the ruling Communist Party’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily on Wednesday quoted legal experts saying the government should file criminal charges against the oil company.

ConocoPhillips owns a 49 percent stake in the oil field, while Chinese offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC owns the rest of the shares.