Chinese Oil Giant's Shares Tumble in Spill Controversy

Chinese oil company CNOOC has watched its share price fall following a growing controversy over an oil spill in the Bohai Gulf. From the Los Angeles Times blog:

Shares were down 2.1% in midday trading in Hong Kong after falling 8.9% Monday.

The sell-off comes amid growing criticism about the handling of the oil spills in China’s northeastern Bohai Sea by CNOOC’s partner, ConocoPhillips.

The U.S. oil company operated two platforms in an offshore oil field named Penglai 19-3, where an estimated 3,200 barrels of crude oil and drilling fluids were released into the sea in early June. The company, which co-owns the oil field with CNOOC, is accused of waiting weeks before disclosing the incidents.

Last Wednesday, ConocoPhillips told the State Oceanic Assn., China’s coastal regulator, that it had met an Aug. 31 deadline for cleaning up the spills and sealing the leaks. But regulators ordered a shutdown two days later after a government investigation found that ConocoPhillips had done neither, according to a statement on CNOOC’s website.

The controversy has received growing coverage in Chinese media, focusing largely on ConocoPhillip’s role in the incidents.

Part of that critical Chinese media coverage includes a recent editorial from Xinhua:

ConocoPhillips China (COPC) announced Sept 5 that it had ceased mining operations at the leaking Penglai 19-3 oil field in north China’s Bohai Bay amid public outcries over its indifference, cover-ups and cheating and government suspension orders.

Masses of fish and shellfish have died since the spill was first detected on June 4 and pollution has spread out across 5,500 square km of sea.

“The ecological environment of the Bohai Bay is relatively fragile, which means it will take longer for it to recover from the pollution,” said Zhou Qing, deputy chief engineer of the northern monitoring center of the State Oceanic Administration (SOA).

Considering the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the environment, experts have been calling for corporate social responsibility on protecting our planet. The bottom line of any company should be to care for the environment and make the planet better rather than polluting it.

Read more about ConocoPhillips in China via CDT.