Maritime authority to sue Conoco over oil leak

Updated: 2011-08-25 06:30


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QINGDAO - China's maritime authority said Wednesday that it is ready to sue US oil giant ConocoPhillips over recent oil spills in north China's Bohai Bay.

The State Oceanic Administration (SOA) is ready to file a lawsuit demanding compensation for the leaks after choosing a team of lawyers, hopefully before the end of this month, a spokesman with the administration said.

He said 49 Chinese law firms have applied to provide legal assistance in the suit.

The North China Sea branch of the SOA will whittle the applicants down to eight companies before assembling the final version of its legal team around the end of August, the spokesman said. He added that the branch will file the lawsuit on behalf of China.

The SOA said the oil spills, which occurred in the bay's Penglai 19-3 oilfield, have damaged the country's oceanic environment.

ConocoPhillips China, a subsidiary of ConocoPhillips, first reported the oil spills in June. The spills have spread to beaches in Hebei and Liaoning provinces and been blamed for losses in local tourism and aquatic farming industries.

Although the company has worked to clean up the spills, pollutants have still been found in the bay, even after cleanup efforts were reported to be complete. ConocoPhillips China admitted that nine new oil spill sources have been found in the bay as of August 20.

The SOA's North China Sea branch has conducted four major evaluations of the bay since the spills were reported. The branch stated that 870 square km of the bay have been seriously polluted, stating that they are unfit for swimming and aquatic farming.