BEIJING Jan 9 China has uncovered nearly 20,000
disaster risks in its oil and gas sector during a nationwide
safety probe following a pipeline blast that killed 62 people
last year, the country's safety watchdog said on Thursday.
Checks on some 3,000 petrochemical firms and oil storage
sites found nearly 20,000 potential hazards, Wang Haoshui, an
inspector with the safety agency, told reporters.
"Oil and gas pipelines are buried underground... It is hard
to inspect (them) and find the hidden dangers," said Wang,
adding that the agency had already urged the parties involved to
fix the problems.
China has 655 trunk oil and gas pipelines with a total
length of 102,000 km. Some of them have been operating for as
long as 40 years, making them vulnerable to corrosion, Huang Yi,
a spokesman for the State Administration of Work Safety, told a
"What worried us is that some oil pipelines overlap with
urban infrastructure pipes, causing many hidden dangers."
The government launched the probe in December.
The November explosion at the Dongying-Huangdao II pipeline
owned by top Asian refiner China Petroleum & Chemical Corp
(Sinopec) was attributed to pipeline
corrosion, irregular work practices and a tangled network of
underground pipes, Huang said.
The blast in the eastern city of Qingdao that killed 62
people resulted from pipeline corrosion that led to a leak,
which was ignited in turn by sparks from a hydraulic hammer used
on the day of the accident, he said.
The probe team has submitted its findings to China's
cabinet, the State Council, and the results will be released to
the public after they have been approved, he added.
Industry officials expected stiff punishment for Sinopec
over the blast, which also injured 136 and caused direct
economic loss of 750 million yuan ($123.9 million).
However, Huang said responsibility lay not only with
Sinopec, but also local governments, regulators and urban
($1=6.051 Chinese Yuan)
(Reporting by Judy Hua and David Stanway; Editing by Clarence