ConocoPhillips works to contain, clean oil spill offshore China

By Phaedra Friend Troy

US super-major ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) has been working to contain and clean two oil spills that began in June offshore China.

In June, two separate oil spills occurred at the Peng Lai 19-3 oil field in Bohai Bay. As operator of the field, ConocoPhillips quickly mobilized its oil spill response efforts, deploying personnel and equipment to stop the oil spills and clean the sheens.

Additionally, ConocoPhillips stopped some of the water injection wells and suspended drilling on the Peng Lai field.

On June 4, a sheen was discovered near the Peng Lai B Platform, caused by a slow, intermittent seep. Immediately, the Chinese authorities were informed, and ConocoPhillips deployed staff and equipment to contain and clean the spill. 

Divers examined the site, and identified the hydrocarbon seepage as a natural fault in the seabed. The oil leak has stopped. 

Then on June 17, another oil sheen was observed at the Peng Lai oil field -- this time near the Peng Lai C Platform. This time, a leak was detected from an existing well on the field. The leak was repaired with a cementing procedure within 48 hours, effectively securing the well. 

Clean-up work continues from the second incident.

Chinese authorities SOA held a press conference on July 5 to discuss the incidents, reporting that 840 square kilometers of seawater surrounding the field are worse than a Grade IV measurement.

"This incident is not comparable to the 2010 incident in the Gulf of Mexico – as it was not a well blowout, there were no injuries, and the volumes released were dramatically lower. In addition, these events took place in shallow water (90 feet), so we were able to promptly contain and clean-up the sheens," the ConocoPhillips statement said.

Currently, there is not an oil sheen in the Bohai Bay operating area. There have been no injuries associated with the accident, as well as no reports of the sheen reaching the shores of China.

The causes of the incidents are currently under investigation.

Peng Lai Oil Field

Located on Block 11/05 in the Bohai Bay, the Peng Lai oil field was discovered in May 1999. The field was developed in multiple phases, using six wellhead platforms, a central processing platform and two FPSOs. 

Production started on the field from the first phase of development in December 2002, and the second phase of development started producing oil in June 2007.

ConocoPhillips serves as operator of the Peng Lai oil field with 49 percent interest. Chinese national oil company CNOOC holds the remaining 51 percent interest in the field.

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