China Orders ConocoPhillips to Halt Production

State agency not convinced that the company has stopped the leaks at oilfield off China's east coast.

China said it is stopping production at one of the oilfields run by ConocoPhillips off its east coast after a massive spill.

China's State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said it is not convinced that Houston-based ConocoPhillips has succeeded in stopping leaks at the site, which the 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, first detected in June.

ConocoPhillips said it is 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 cleanup 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 also is 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.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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