A huge oil spill off the Chinese coast has now contaminated an area around six times the size of Singapore, state media reported today, as the government said it may seek compensation for the leak.
The spill from the oil field, which the United States’ ConocoPhillips operates with China’s state-run oil giant CNOOC, has polluted a total area of almost 4,250 square kilometers (1,650 square miles), government figures showed.
The figures, which were announced on the State Oceanic Administration website earlier this week but only reported today, were almost five times the size of the 840-square-kilometer area previously reported.
The administration says that area remains worst affected by the spill, but that another 3,400 square kilometres have also been contaminated to a lesser degree by the oil.
The spill was kept secret by the authorities for several weeks before being made public this month, sparking suspicions of an official cover-up, and the disaster has triggered a furious public response in China.
State media said the government was considering seeking compensation from ConocoPhillips over the spill.
CNOOC said last week the spill was “basically under control” while ConocoPhillips told reporters the leaks had been plugged.
But on Wednesday the oceanic administration said oil was still leaking into the ocean and ordered ConocoPhillips to stop operations at several rigs in the polluted area until the source of the spill was fully plugged.
CNOOC has been slammed by state media and green groups over the spill, and it emerged on Tuesday that the firm was cleaning up another slick after a breakdown at a rig off the northeast coast.
ConocoPhillips said yesterday the spill was the equivalent of 1,500 barrels of oil.