Zhang Fuqiu, lawyer of the 21 plaintiffs in the ConocoPhillips case, released an interview to Caixin, explaining the circumstances of the Bohai Bay incident, and its consequences for the local environment and communities.
Starting from June 2011, oil spilled from the Penglai 19-3 Oilfield. The incident covered a vast area, and a great amount of water was contaminated. Penglai 19-3 Oilfield was jointly run by ConocoPhillips and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation; the two companies were held responsible for the damages done in the area.
The Bohai Bay oil spill was not only detrimental to the local environment, but was also disastrous for the marine cultivations. In fact, many local households complained that, because of water pollution and oil contamination, their businesses suffered great losses.
On December 30th, 2011 the Tianjin maritime court accepted the case filed by 29 households against ConocoPhillips and China National Offshore Oil Corporation. An agreement was reached soon after the case was filed between the two companies, the Hebei provincial government and other relevant departments. As a result, the households received an average 540 RMB each in compensation. However, Zhang Fuqiu points out that the third party organization that estimated their losses in 2011 stated that they represented 2,3 billion RMB or an average of 40,830 RMB per household.
Three years later, of the 29 plaintiffs that started the lawsuit, only 21 remains. The two oil companies are currently trying to invalidate their claims.
This is the first case of a collective lawsuit filed for the Bohai Bay incident; and Zhang Fuqiu affirms that the plaintiffs will settle only if the oil companies will meet all of their requests.