Conoco's China Spill Worse Than Previously Thought

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ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, said today an oil spill reported in July off the coast of Northeast China may be worse than previously estimated. The company said it is still estimating the size of the spill, but evidence has been found that makes it appear as though the spill may be larger than initially forecast.

Texas-based ConocoPhillips (COP) reported a preliminary estimate of 1,500 barrels leaked, but the company has been accused of not being transparent about the size of the spill. Similar accusations have been made against Cnooc (CEO), China's largest offshore oil producer and Conoco's partner on the project.

Earlier this week China's State Oceanic Administration (SOA) accused the U.S. company of dragging its feet over the clean-up and threatened to fine it nearly $29,000, or 200,000 Chinese yuan, according to the Australian. Chinese authorities kept the spill out of the press for several weeks.

The spill is believed to have affected an area of 1,200 square kilometers, but Chinese authorities originally put their estimate at 4,000 square kilometers without explaining the large difference in estimates, the Australian reported.