Shanghai: The local unit of ConocoPhillips apologised for oil spills in China's Bohai Bay and said the cleanup from the leaks is almost complete, with minimal impact to the environment.
No oil remains on the sea's surface from the leakages, ConocoPhillips China said in a statement on Friday, emphasising it intends to ensure such incidents do not recur.
"ConocoPhillips sincerely regrets the incidents in Bohai Bay, and accepts its responsibilities," the company said.
ConocoPhillips China operates offshore wells in the Bohai's Penglai 19-3 oil field in partnership with state-run China National Offshore Oil Corp. The spills, which occurred in June, covered 840 square kilometres, drawing criticism from environmentalists and local media, which in turn has pressured the government to take a stern, public line.
The ConocoPhillips statement seemed intended to mollify a Chinese government investigation team, which later Friday issued a string of demands.
The multi-agency team called on ConocoPhillips to plug the leaks, accept responsibility for the damage, take measures to prevent future spills and provide a full accounting for the accident and its aftermath.
Georg Storaker, president of ConocoPhillips China, said all oil from the spills had either been recovered, evaporated or degraded to "background levels" due to waves, winds and currents.
"No oil from these events remains on the surface of the water of Bohai Bay," he said in the statement. But he added, "Any release of oil, no matter how small, is too great, and we will take all appropriate steps to contain and clean up these releases and prevent them from recurring."
Altogether, the company says about 700 barrels of oil and 2,500 barrels of mineral oil-based drilling mud, used as a lubricant for drilling, were released by the two spills.
The first, on June 4, seeped from a previously inactive fault and may have resulted from pressure from the well's operation, it said, describing the situation as rare.
The second spill, which began June 17, was stopped within 48 hours and the well involved was permanently plugged, Conoco-Phillips China said.
It said it was working with the State Oceanic Administration to seal the natural fault that was a source of continuing seepage and that it was investigating the source of droplets of oil seeping from another small area near one of its well platforms.
The oil spills have deepened concern over the marine environment in the Bohai, a major fisheries region that already is suffering heavy pollution from industry and agriculture. ConocoPhillips said its tests of oil particles collected from shorelines found that only two of 56 could be traced to the oil spills. Most, it said, appeared to be from fuel oil.