September 09th, 2011 | Xinhua There’s no bias against foreign oil companies
HOW does the accuser become the accused? That’s what has happened to China after it ordered a shutdown of drilling platforms operated by the ConocoPhillips over an oil spill.
The China subsidiary of US-based ConocoPhillips halted production in northern Bohai Bay on Monday, as required by the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), in order to prevent risk of further pollution.
The oil spill started in early June, and has been estimated to have polluted 5,500 square kilometers of water as of Monday.
ConocoPhillips, the sole operator of the country’s largest offshore field, has been blamed for the leaks. The company has extended an apology after the SOA demanded one.
The Financial Times placed blame on China in an analysis on Wednesday with the headline “Oil spill raises concerns for groups in China.”
The article said the oil spill “has sparked concerns about discrimination against foreign companies…” It referred to the government’s suspension order as “unusually harsh,” citing analysts.
The oil spill “has highlighted the risks that foreign companies face when they are operating in sectors – such as offshore drilling – that become a focus of an environmental crackdown,” it said.
Actually, there was not much choice for the Chinese government but to order an entire shutdown, given ConocoPhillips China’s delays, negligence and cover-ups in handing the incident, which has aroused public anger.
The suspension order issued by the SOA came last Friday after ConocoPhillips China failed to meet the SOA’s order to find potential oil spill sources and seal existing oil leaks before August 31.
Their management has missed the best time to resolve the issue, resulting in serious harm to Bohai’s marine environment as well as the local fishing industry.
China’s environmental experts said the suspension order is the right thing to do and a must.
It is certain that the production halt will cut output and hurt profitability for ConocoPhillips and its partner, China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC).
ConocoPhillips holds a 49 percent interest in the Penglai 19-3 field, which represents about 3 percent of the company’s total annual production.
CNOOC has a 51-percent stake. The company said the suspension will reduce its net production by about 62,000 barrels per day.
Net production will decrease by 8 million barrels this year, 2.3 percent of the full-year target, if production does not resume this year.
Damage is enormous for both companies. So where does discrimination come from?
It should be quite clear and justified that foreign companies should abide by Chinese laws and fulfill their responsibilities as much as their Chinese counterparts do.
It’s time to end fanning of sentiment that China discriminates against foreign firms.