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CNOOC continues to undermine its environmental record and reputation

  • Staff Reporter
  • 2011-10-27
  • 08:40 (GMT+8)
According to CNOOC, the latest oil leak was discovered on Oct. 14 at platform B of the Jinzhou 9-3 field in the Bohai Gulf. (File Photo/Xinhua)

According to CNOOC, the latest oil leak was discovered on Oct. 14 at platform B of the Jinzhou 9-3 field in the Bohai Gulf. (File Photo/Xinhua)

The Jinzhou 9-3 oilfield located in the Bohai Gulf, fully owned by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, witnessed an oil spill on Oct. 14, the second by CNOOC this year coming four months after the Penglai oilfield spill in June. The latest incident has further underlined the problems of offshore oil exploration and monitoring issues in China which many believe to be linked to the state-run oil company's hasty expansion.

The leaks have drawn major attention from the government, causing the ministry of Land and Resources to lead a large-scale inspection into the safety of marine oil exploration and development in the Bohai Gulf, East China Sea and South China Sea. According to an official at CNOOC, the oil spill and inspection could have a negative effect on the company achieving its production goal for this year.

According to CNOOC, the oil leak was discovered on Oct. 14 at platform B of the Jinzhou 9-3 field. The company's branch office in Tianjin immediately closed the pipeline, causing CNOOC's production to be reduced by 1,600 barrels per day. Two sources of the oil spill were said to have been plugged that same afternoon.

The official stated that oil spills had been a problem for a long time but had previously been kept quiet. The fact that recent spills were reported only makes the long-existing safety and environmental issues more visible. Between 2006 and 2010 there were 41 oil spills, including 19 in the Bohai Gulf and 22 in the South China Sea. Other environmental issues such as noise pollution have affected the Huizhou branch of CNOOC.

With the growing controversy regarding the Bohai spills, China's government on Oct. 17 started an inspection of the safety of offshore oil exploration and production in China's coastal waters. On Sept. 26, CNOOC also began an investigation and inspection in several areas with a focus on aspects of exploration, environmental influence, compliance with regulations and emergency management.

Ironically, it was only after CNOOC completed its investigation and inspection that the Jinzhou oil spill occurred. Until now, CNOOC has still been unable to completely halt the earlier oil spill in the Penglai oilfield. An associate professor at Shandong University at Weihai said this event has highlighted CNOOC's problems in supervising its offshore fields.

According to a source from the oil industry, maximizing oil and gas production, expanding territory and making profits have taken priority over safety and environment protection among oil companies.

"The same problems exist not only at CNOOC but also at China National Petroleum Corp and China National Petroleum Corp. The long-held monopoly over resources by these three main petroleum companies has brought them great profits and thus made them less motivated to improve and supervise ongoing operations," an energy expert in Beijing said.

References:

Jingzhou 錦州

Bohai 渤海

Penglai 蓬萊

China National Offshore Oil Corp(CNOOC) 中海油

Tianjin 天津

Hueizhou 惠州

Shandong University at Weihai 山東大學威海分校

China National Petroleum Corporation 中石油

China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation 中石化

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