July 04th, 2012 | China Daily ConocoPhillips hopes spill lawsuit dismissed
US oil giant ConocoPhillips said on July 4 the company has yet to be served with a lawsuit for compensation for 30 Chinese fishermen suffering from an oil leak incident in China, but the claims should be dismissed.
“The company has yet to be served with this lawsuit,” Donna Xue, spokeswoman of the ConocoPhillips China, told China Daily through e-mail.
“But based upon reports of the claims, they are not appropriate for US courts and should be dismissed.”
The lawsuit was filed by US attorneys from three US law firms in the Southern District Court of Texas on July 3 Beijing time.
The cross-border lawsuit is the latest attempt by people affected by oil spills in North China’s Bohai Bay in June last year to win compensation from the US company allegedly responsible for the disaster.
The three law firms – Bilek Law Firm LLP in Houston, Smith Stag LLC in New Orleans, and Jones, Swanson, Huddell & Garrison LLC, also in New Orleans – have been preparing the class action since last year.
Besides the 30 Shandong fishermen, another 470 have signed contracts with the US legal team and more may join, said Jia Fangyi, a lawyer at Great Wall Law Firm in China who acts as a bridge between Chinese fishermen and US attorneys.
He said all legal services are free and only for justice.
ConocoPhillips China, the operator of the Penglai 19-3 oilfield where the incident happened, agreed with the government to set up a 1.1 billion yuan ($173 million) fund based on the estimated damages, in addition to an earlier 1 billion yuan compensation fund for the affected fishermen in Hebei and Liaoning provinces.
No money was allocated to Shandong and Tianjin, where residents claimed the local water was polluted by the incident.
In June 2011, Penglai 19-3 experienced two unrelated leaks, with initial estimates indicating that about 115 cubic meters of oil were released into the sea and 416 cu m of mineral oil mud were released onto the seabed, according to ConocoPhillips China.
A State Oceanic Administration report in November said the leaks polluted an area of about 6,200 square kilometers (nearly nine times the size of Singapore), including 870 sq km that was severely polluted.
By Wang Qian