ConocoPhillips vows to finish oil spill cleanup by end-Aug

BEIJING Fri Aug 19, 2011 5:55am EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - A subsidiary of Houston-based ConocoPhillips said on Friday that more than 85 percent of oil-based mud from its oil spill in China's Bohai Bay had been recovered and vowed to finish the cleanup by the end of this month.

The oil leak at the Penglai 19-3 oilfield, China's biggest offshore oil field, which started in June, has polluted 840 square kilometers of water, the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) has said.

ConocoPhilips 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.

The marine authority had expressed growing frustration at the failure of ConocoPhillips China to contain the two-month oil spill that has spread across the northeast coast and repeatedly urged it to halt the leak by the end of August.

ConocoPhillips China said in a statement it believes the leak at platform B of Penglai 19-3 oilfield had naturally sealed. The company is also carrying out plans to ensure the fault is sealed off by pumping cement into various spots along the fault, the company said on its website (www.conocophillips.com.cn).

The company said it has not found evidence of harm to marine life but added it continues to work with the government and international experts to confirm whether there has been any affect on marine life or fisheries.

The official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday that fishermen in north China's Hebei Province were preparing to sue ConocoPhillips because they believed recent oil spills in Bohai Bay were to blame for the deaths of large numbers of scallops.

Economic losses of the fishermen are believed to be between 150 million yuan and 170 million yuan ($23.5 million-$26.6 million) as more than half of the scallops the fishermen raised have died, Xinhua said.

The State Oceanic Administration said this week it had not determined the compensation it would seek for ecological damage caused by the oil spill, adding it plans to sue the parties responsible.

ConocoPhillips is preparing to deliver to the China's marine authority a report reviewing the steps taken to address these incidents and to review forward plans. It will also keep the public apprised of its progress, it said.

The company said on Thursday that with the approval from SOA, it had resumed operations at some wells in China's Bohai Bay that were ordered to shut down after an oil spill.

($1 = 6.388 Chinese Yuan)

(Reporting by Judy Hua and Chen Aizhu; Editing by Ken Wills)

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