BEIJING, Aug 24 (Reuters) - A subsidiary of ConocoPhillips said it has started evaluating the impact of its oil spill on the marine environment in China’s northern Bohai Bay, but it has not yet received any claims for the incident.
State media have said fishermen in northern China’s Hebei Province were preparing to sue ConocoPhillips in connection with the deaths of large numbers of scallops in Bohai Bay.
Economic losses incurred by the fishing industry are believed to be between 150 million yuan and 170 million yuan ($23.5 million-$26.6 million), according to the reports.
“We have not received any notifications of any claims from this incident,” Georg Storaker, president of ConocoPhillips China, said at a news conference on Wednesday.
The company has said it halted original leaks at the Penglai 19-3 oilfield, China’s biggest offshore oil field, which started in June.
The State Oceanic Administration has said 840 square kilometres of water had been polluted by the leaks. On Monday, media reports said the company was still dealing with several small oil leaks on the seabed 15 metres north of the oilfield’s Platform C. .
Asked if the company was considering establishing a fund for environmental protection activities, as BP did after last year’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Storaker said: “First of all, there is no comparison between the two incidents. We have not received any claims today, but we will consider any such claims if they come out.”
ConocoPhillips owns a 49 percent stake in the oilfield and acts as the operator, while China’s offshore oil specialist CNOOC Ltd has a 51 percent stake.
A third party is conducting an investigation and evaluation of the oil spill’s environmental impact, company officials said.
”After these unfortunate incidents, we have started to evaluate the impact on the marine environment. The work is ongoing right now and our vessels are taking samples,’ said Xu Xianhong, head of Health, Safety and Environmental protection of ConocoPhillips China.
Xu declined to name the third party and gave no timetable for when the evaluation would be finished.
ConocoPhillips China again said it was on track to meet China’s marine authorities’ requirements to finish the cleanup and seal off oil spill sources by the end of this month, in one week.
“We are on target to reach that goal. At the moment we have got 95 percent of the oil-based mud already cleaned up and we have sealed off the sources of original releases from June 4 and June 17,” said Rich Johnson, spokesman of ConocoPhillips.
Reporting by Judy Hua and Chen Aizhu; Editing by Ken Wills