China Checks Safety of Offshore Oil Rigs

Posted September 11th, 2011 at 11:00 am (UTC-5)
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China says it has begun safety inspections on all offshore oil exploration and production facilities, to eliminate concerns spawned by undersea oil spills in a coastal area near Beijing.

The official Xinhua news agency says the inspections, which began Saturday, will continue for three months and will cover fixed and mobile platforms, as well as floating production storage facilities, off-loading units, underwater pipelines and onshore oil terminals.

The start of the inspections comes just days after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao ordered a thorough probe of the oil spill in Bohai Bay, near a well operated by U.S. oil giant ConocoPhillips. Environmentalists say the undersea well site began leaking in June and has badly polluted beaches. Authorities say commercial fishing and area agricultural operations have also been affected.

ConocoPhilips, which halted operations at the site last week, said Thursday it would create a fund to offset damages caused by the spill.