China has ordered ConocoPhillips to immediately halt output at two offshore platforms in the Bohai Bay off its northeast coast, saying recent oil spills were not fully under control.
The State Oceanic Administration said Wednesday it wanted the company to completely eliminate any risks of leaks after spills were found from platforms B and C of the Penglai 19-3 oilfield, which is operated by Houston-based ConocoPhillips' China subsidiary.
It said satellite monitoring and inspections detected oil near the platforms and said there were signs further leaks may occur.
Last week, ConocoPhillips China, which partnered with state-run China National Offshore Oil Corp. in developing the Penglai field, said it had cleaned up oil from two spills there last month which had covered some 840 square kilometers (324 square miles).China reported a fresh but smaller oil spill Tuesday in the Bohai Bay in another field operated by CNOOC.
Conoco said Wednesday that amounts of oil, "no more than liters per day," continue to seep out from a naturally occurring fault near platform B. It said final cleanup operations are ongoing near platform C, where "trace amounts" of oil and gas bubbles continue to be observed from the sea floor.
Conoco, based in Houston, estimated that a combined 1,500 to 2,000 barrels of oil and oil-based drilling fluids were spilled. No oil has reached the shore, and no one was injured in the spills, Conoco said. The 1 square kilometer (0.4 square mile) spill was caused by a malfunction in the centralized control system for the Suizhong 36-1 oilfield's central platform, ocean authorities said.
CNOOC said in a statement Tuesday the malfunction had been fixed and that it expected that the oil spill would be cleaned up by the end of the day.
The Oceanic Administration has ordered all offshore oil operators to conduct risk assessments and beef up their emergency plans to prevent or minimize any damage to the marine environment, which is also suffering from algae blooms and red tides.