Brief Report of CBCGDF Suing ConocoPhillips and CNOOC for Polluting the Ecological Environment of the Bohai Sea
2023/6/21 16:43:00 本站

On June 4, 2011, an oil spill occurred at the B platform of Penglai 19-3 Oilfield in the central southern part of the Bohai Sea. On June 17, a well kick accident occurred at the C20 well of the C platform of Penglai 19-3 Oilfield. These two accidents caused 700 barrels of crude oil to flow into the sea, and approximately 2500 barrels of mineral oil-based mud to be stranded on the seabed, with seawater pollution in an area of 6200 square kilometers in the surrounding and northwest of Penglai 19-3 Oilfield. This catastrophe was identified as one of the most serious marine ecological disaster and oil spill accident in China.

Credit: Canvas

ConocoPhillips, one of the world's largest independent E&P company based in US, the 17th in the 2011 Fortune Global 500, mainly engaged in oil and natural gas exploration, extraction, and sales of chemicals and plastic products. As the operator of the Penglai Oilfield, ConocoPhillips China Inc. (COPC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of ConocoPhillips undertaking oil and gas exploration and production operations in China, violated the overall development plan of the oilfield in the process of operation, and took no necessary preventive measures against the risks that should be foreseen, eventually led to the oil spill and well kick accident. Furthermore, COPC was so slackened and perfunctory that it passively responded to the accident, and did not take effective measures to contain the 9 underwater oil leakage points for a long time.

After coordination, the Ministry of Agriculture and the State Oceanic Administration of China reached a compensation agreement for fishery losses with ConocoPhillips and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC, another owner of the Penglai Oilfield) in 2012, of which, 731.5 million yuan is used to compensate the fishermen for their breeding losses from Hebei Province to Liaoning Province. At the end of 2012, about 4500 fishermen had received the compensation.

Economic losses could be compensated, leaving ecological disasters not being restored for nearly 4 years, with the pollution still ongoing. In 2015, China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) established a public interest litigation lawyer team of 19 people, organized multiple seminars to study relevant legal issues and litigation strategies, and finally launched an environmental public interest lawsuit with defendants as ConocoPhillips and CNOOC. CBCGDF requested the defendants to restore the ecological environment of Bohai Bay to the state before the accidents. This became the first registered marine environmental public interest lawsuit launched by a NGO in China.

This lawsuit conveyed an idea to the world, which is that any enterprise engaged in production and operation should comply with the law, and no matter small enterprises or global corporate group, they are equal under the law. Those who cause environmental pollution and damage to others due to illegal operations must bear legal responsibilities such as environmental recovery and compensation for losses. It has played a positive role in promoting the participation of Chinese NGOs in environmental public interest litigation, maintaining environmental justice and the well-being of indigenous people and local communities.

This case was recognized as China's top ten public interest litigation in 2015 by the Case Law Institute of the China Law Society, the Procedural Law Institute of China University of Political Science and Law, and Legalweekly, and one of the environmental public interest litigation cases which have a significant social impact by the Supreme People's Court of China.





Translator: Richard

Editor: Sara

Contact:; +8617319454776


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