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China orders US giant to halt production at oilfield
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Sept 2, 2011

China said Friday it was stopping production at one of the oilfields run by the US oil giant ConocoPhillips off its east coast after a massive spill.

China's State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said it was not satisfied that ConocoPhillips had succeeded in stopping leaks at the site, which the US company operates jointly with Chinese state-owned oil firm CNOOC.

It ordered the company to stop production at its Penglai 19-3 oilfield, which was the source of the leak in Bohai Bay.

The field is one of several operated by ConocoPhillips, which said this week it had cleaned up most of the huge oil slick that resulted from the spill, which was first detected in June.

ConocoPhillips said it was continuing to "capture any potential remnants that may work their way to the seabed" and expressed "sincere regret" over the disaster.

The government had given the company until the end of August to complete the clean-up and stop any remaining leaks.

About 3,200 barrels of oil and oil-based mud -- a substance used as a lubricant in drilling -- have leaked into Bohai Bay, the official Xinhua news agency has said, citing ConocoPhillips.

The SOA, which supervises and manages China's seas, has said it plans to sue ConocoPhillips and seek compensation for the spill.

A Chinese lawyer is also suing CNOOC and ConocoPhillips over the leaks, state media has said.

Fishermen in the Shandong, Hebei and Liaoning provinces that border Bohai Bay, east of Beijing, allege that oil from the leaks has killed a large part of their harvest.

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