ConocoPhillips sets up compensation fund

Updated: 2011-12-21 22:28


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BEIJING - US energy company ConocoPhillips on Wednesday again promised to offer compensation for damages caused by oil spills at its two platforms off China's northeast coast, but the company refrained from offering more details.

The company is responsible for leaks near platforms B and C of the Penglai 19-3 oil field in Bohai Bay and has established a fund to provide compensation to plaintiffs, President of ConocoPhillips Asia Pacific Don E. Wallette, Jr. told reporters here.

The fund will be run by independent institutions and aims to offer "fair, expeditious and convenient" compensation to both public and individual claimants affected by the accident, he said.

However, the company did not disclose the scale or source of the fund, nor did it say how it will operate.

The amount of claims is being discussed and it is not yet time to announce the scale of the fund, said Wallette.

The oil spill has polluted over 6,200 square km of water in the bay since June, an area about nine times the size of Singapore.

ConocoPhillips had previously promised to set up a compensation fund, but offered no details at that time.

Earlier this month, over 100 fishermen from Hebei province filed a lawsuit against ConocoPhillips China, saying the oil spill killed many of their clams and sea cucumbers. They sought 490 million yuan ($77.78 million) in damages.

The State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said last month that operations in the Penglai 19-3 oil field were in violation of the region's development plan and there were shortcomings in ConocoPhillips China's management system.

The SOA said the company "failed to take necessary preventive measures after signs of a problem emerged."

Wallette refuted media reports that ConocoPhillips once claimed there was no evidence of environmental pollution caused by the oil leaks. He said the company never made such a statement.

Investigations by ConocoPhillips China and third-party experts showed that the persistent influence of the spills on the environment was "very small," Wallette said, adding that Chinese experts are welcome to provide relevant information.

ConocoPhillips China first reported the two oil spills to authorities in early and mid-June, when an area of 840 square km was polluted.

Pollutants from the oil spills have been found spreading to beaches in northern Hebei province and northeastern Liaoning province, and have been blamed for worsening sea water quality as well as losses in local tourism revenue and the aquatic farming industry.

A survey on the oil field on Tuesday showed there were no visible oil belts near the two platforms but oil leaks still continued, with an estimated amount of 0.09 liter of oil leaking into the sea each day, the SOA said Wednesday.

Wallette said the company has established an environmental fund to support green projects in the Bohai Bay and nearby communities.

The Penglai oil field is one of China's largest offshore oil fields. ConocoPhillips China operates the Penglai 19-3 oil field with its Chinese state-owned partner, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation.