ConocoPhillips is facing two lawsuits in China—one has been accepted by a Chinese court and the other is well underway to be accepted—that claim leaks from offshore oil production facilities operated by the U.S. firm’s local unit caused damages to local fishermen.
Yesterday’s suit, on behalf of 29 clam and sea cucumber producers, was filed in north China’s Tianjin Maritime Court on Friday, and the same court, according to reports, was checking the identities of 107 fishermen who have filed a separate case seeking 490 million yuan (78 million U.S. dollars ) in compensation.
Several earlier attempts to seek compensation from ConocoPhillips, the operator of the Penglai 19-3 oil field in Bohai Bay, as well as the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, who owns the field, have failed to receive any response from the court in the six months after the leakage in June.
In two incidents, some 3,343 barrels of oil and mud used in drilling leaked up through the Bohai Bay seafloor near platforms operated by Conoco, according to company figures. Over 6,200 square kilometers of water was polluted in the bay, an area about nine times the size of Singapore, local authority said.
Damages could amount to several billions yuan, with the China Environment Federation predicting in August that 200 among the thousands of households have suffered an economic loss of 1.3 billion yuan.
Earlier reports have also said that the U.S. company may also face punishments from the State Oceanic Administration in August, a penalty at about 200,000 yuan (about $30,000), but no follow-up the issue has been reported ever since.
The amount of penalty was calculated based on current administration provisions, which has drawn doubts and criticism in the country.
In response, a ConocoPhillips spokesperson said on December 16 that the company had found little evidence that the oil spill from Penglai 19-3 field had damaged the wider environment in Bohai Bay and submitted a revised overall development plan for the field to the central government.