Oil spills pose threat to China’s oceans, says think tank

Friday, November 12, 2010

BEIJING - The China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development has said that oil spills are posing an increasing threat to the country’s marine environment even as energy demand grows.

In a report released Thursday, the CCIC said the volume of China’s oil transported by sea now ranked third in the world following the United States and Japan, and its oil handling capacity is growing by more than 10 million tons every year, making China’s oceans a potential site for marine incidents and oil spills.

The expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration is also increasing the risk, the report warned.

It said from 1973 to 2006, about 2,635 oil spills happened at sea in China, with more than 37,000 tons of oil spilled.

The Yangtze River, Pearl River, Taiwan Straits and Bohai Bay are the areas at greatest risk for oil spills, it said.

The Bohai Sea, which has the highest concentration of ports in China, is the national strategic petroleum reserve and has the largest offshore oilfield in the country.

A total of 178 offshore oil platforms and 1,419 marine oil wells have been built in the sea, and their oil capacity is expected to reach 210 million tons by 2020, the report said.

A warning system and an emergency response mechanism should be put in place, the report suggested.

It also proposed the establishment of an independent State Oceanic Committee to coordinate the management of marine affairs with other departments including the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) and the Ministry of Agriculture.

At present, five departments are involved in marine affairs in China, including the China Marine Surveillance under the SOA, the fishery administration under the Ministry of Agriculture, the Maritime Safety Administration under the Ministry of Transport, marine police of the Ministry of Public Security and the General Administration of Customs. (ANI)

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