China’s Largest Offshore Oilfield Leaking

July 1, 2011 11:39 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2015 4:20 pm
Oil leaking in China's largest offshore field reported. (Screenshot from
Oil leaking in China's largest offshore field reported. (Screenshot from

Chinese authorities finally confirmed that oil is gushing out of the Penglai 19-3 oilfield in the Bohai Sea. The oil leak was first detected in mid-June according to Economy & Nation Weekly, but the news was kept from the public.

The troubled oilfield is China’s largest offshore site and jointly developed by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and ConocoPhillips China, Inc. (COPC). China’s State Oceanic Administration is now looking into it.

According to Economy & Nation Weekly, the oil leak was first detected in mid-June, but no announcement was made by CNOOC and COPC. On June 21 blog posts that reported the oil leak were deleted.

Due to the media blackout it has been impossible to determine the severity of the leak or to measure the damage done to nearby surroundings.

According to an anonymous source inside CNOOC, the incident is not very serious, since “basically the oil leak has been cleaned up,” reported Economy & Nation Weekly.

The Penglai 19-3 oilfield is China’s largest offshore oil field. Discovered in May 1999 by COPC, the oilfield is estimated to have a potential capacity of 0.5 billion barrels of oil.

In 2002 Phase I of the development of PL 19-3 produced 18,000 barrels of oil per day; in September, 2008, Phase II reached a peak production of 150,000 barrels of oil per day.

CNOOC holds 51 percent interest of PL 19-3, while COPC holds the remaining 49 percent. COPC operates the oilfield.

On July 1 the Beijing Times reported that the Bohai Sea oil fields are CNOOC’s main production areas. Beijing Times cited CNOOC Ltd’s 2011 first quarter results: Petroleum products from the Bohai Sea account for over 57 percent of the company’s total net production, and over 12 percent of the Company’s total gas production.

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