ConocoPhillips says evaluating China spill impact

BEIJING Wed Aug 24, 2011 6:55am EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - A subsidiary of ConocoPhillips said it has started evaluating the impact of its oil spill in China's northern Bohai Bay on the marine environment, but 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 for wiping out large numbers of scallops in Bohai Bay.

Economic losses incurred by the fishing industry were estimated at between 150 million and 170 million yuan ($23.5 million-$26.6 million), according to the reports.

"We have not received any notification of any claims from this incident," Georg Storaker, president of ConocoPhillips China, said at a news conference on Wednesday.

The company has said it had 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 kilometers 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 meters 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 top offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC Ltd has a 51 percent stake.

A third party was 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. Work is ongoing right now and our vessels are taking samples,' said Xu Xianhong, head of health, safety and environmental protection at ConocoPhillips China.

Xu declined to identify the third party and gave no timetable for when the evaluation would be finished.

ConocoPhillips China again said it was on track to meet requirements of China's marine authorities to finish the cleanup and seal off oil spill sources by the end of the month.

"We are on target to reach that goal. At the moment we have 95 percent of the oil-based mud already cleaned up and have sealed off the sources of original releases from June 4 and June 17," said ConocoPhillips spokesman Rich Johnson.

CNOOC Ltd said on Wednesday that it had revised its production target to 331 million-341 million barrels of oil equivalent for 2011, down from 355 million-365 million, partly because of the oil spill.

"The company has already started performing inspections of major facilities, equipment and production operations of all our oilfields, and reinforcing our risk management measures, to avoid similar incidents happening in the future," CNOOC said in a press release.

CNOOC would continue to urge and assist ConocoPhillips China to complete the cleanup work in a timely manner and to minimize the impact on the marine environment, it added.

ConocoPhillips has said the shutdown of two platforms at Penglai 19-3 would result in a temporary reduction of about 17,000 barrels of oil per day.

(Reporting by Judy Hua and Chen Aizhu; Editing by Chris Lewis and Michael Urquhart)

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