Conoco, facing spectre of criminal charges, establishes reparation fund
Legal experts have suggested China's maritime authorities file a criminal case against ConocoPhillips China, the operator of the two leaking platforms in Northeast China's Bohai Bay.
The China Daily reported that the United States energy company could face charges over severe environmental pollution, causing a major accident and illegal mining, Jia Fangyi, an attorney at the Beijing-based Great Wall Law Firm, said on Tuesday.
Jia wrote to the State Oceanic Administration on Monday to suggest the authority, as the direct victim, files a criminal lawsuit against ConocoPhillips. He has so far received no response.
According to China's Criminal Law, if a manmade error causes a loss of 300,000 yuan (USD47,000) or casualties and the operator has a negative attitude before and after the accident, charges can be brought on the grounds of severe environmental pollution.
The administration said in a recent investigation report that the leak was caused by human error.
Although ConocoPhillips insists no impact has been detected in the coastal areas, lawyers and authorities are busy trying to prove the link between the leak and reports of dead scallops and shrimp.
An insider on the State Oceanic Administration's legal consultancy team told China Daily that sufficient sample testing has been done in preparation for a civil lawsuit to claim environmental and economic compensation.
Meanwhile, ConocoPhillips yesterday announced that it will establish a fund related to the incidents at the spills in Bohai Bay designed to “address ConocoPhillips’ responsibilities in accordance with relevant laws of China and to benefit the general environment in Bohai Bay.”
“ConocoPhillips deeply regrets these incidents and apologizes for the impact that the incidents have had on the Chinese people and the environment,” said James J. Mulva, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, ConocoPhillips.