Marine environmental pollution is a legal and sensitive social issue. The Bohai Penglai 19-3 oilfield oil spill incident is currently the hot topic of conversation. Since the discovery of the oil seepage in June 2011, while oil is continuing to leak, the legal measures to be taken against the operator, ConocoPhillips, are still in the “planning” stage. No civil compensation or criminal procedure had been initiated and the greatest possible administrative penalty would be a fine of RMB200,000 (US$31,000).
The incident is one of oil pollution caused by improper offshore oil development operations and possibly the greatest offshore oilfield oil spill accident in the PRC’s history.
Be that as it may, the main source of marine oil pollution is not oil spillage from offshore oil fields, but rather ship oil pollution, including oil pollution from refuelling and lighterage operations, ship oil bilge discharge and oil pollution arising from maritime disasters.
Chen Weidong is a senior partner and Steven Zhou is a lawyer in the Shanghai office of Dacheng Law Offices
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