China / Society

China calls for oil spill response network

By Wang Qian and Xie Chuanjiao in Qingdao, Shandong province ( Updated: 2014-03-28 18:00

China called for the establishment of an expert response network among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to deal with increasing risks posed by offshore oil spills, at a seminar that closed on Friday.

"The proposal aims to build a platform for experts in the ASEAN region to communicate and share experience and information on offshore oil spill preparedness, response and management," Xu Heyun, an official with the international cooperation of the State Oceanic Administration, told China Daily. She was speaking on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum Seminar on Regional Cooperation on Offshore Oil Spills, in Qingdao, Shandong province, on Friday.

She said time and a series of discussions are still needed before the proposal is approved.

More than 70 officials and experts from 16 countries, regions and organizations attended the two-day meeting that aimed at prompting ASEAN regional cooperation on offshore oil spills. The seminar was hosted by the North China Sea Branch of the SOA.

A draft proposal for the network was sent to each participant on Friday, to invite their opinions.

Wang Bin, deputy director of the branch, said the initiative will "enhance the ability to prevent accidents associated with offshore oil exploration and development and marine transport, and the capacity for quick response".

The network will consist of experts from forum participants with professional backgrounds including monitoring, early warning, trajectory forecasting, identification, assessment and mitigation of offshore oil spills, according to the draft.

Information exchanges, technical training and accident response consulting will be provided after the network is established. China is willing to host an online forum for the expert network, according to the draft.

Offshore oil spills have increased in recent years. In 2010, 2011 and 2013, damaging oil spills or explosions polluted thousands of square kilometers of sea and caused severe damage to the marine environment.

The SOA's latest statistics showed that, as of January, China had 194 oil drill platforms in its waters.

About 17,150 square kilometers of China's waters failed to meet the national standard in 2013 due to oil pollution, SOA data showed.

The increasing incidents are posing threats to all coastal states and the ocean. The series of oil spills including those in the Gulf of Mexico and Bohai Bay show the urgency and necessity to promote information exchanges and experience sharing between ASEAN members on offshore oil spill response and management, Liang Fengkui, deputy director of the SOA's international cooperation department, said in the opening ceremony for the seminar on Thursday.

"A country has boundaries, but oil spills don't," said Zhang Zhaokang, senior technology consultant of the Emergency Coordination Center with the China Offshore Environmental Services Ltd.

Robert Cox, technical director of the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association, said it is time for a partnership approach to tackle the issue.

According to the SOA, cooperation on marine environment protection, marine disaster relief, and research and development of marine science and technology will be enhanced.

China and ASEAN are entering a booming cooperation period. Premier Li Keqiang stressed in his work report at the recent annual parliamentary meeting that the government will push forward the establishment of the Silk Road economic belt and a 21st century maritime Silk Road.

Besides enhancing cooperation and coordination with ASEAN members, said Tan Junyao, an official with the Maritime Oil Spill Emergency Response Center of China, the country has been enhancing its offshore oil spill response capacity building in order to deal with increasing incidents.

By the end of 2013, China had built 178 storehouses for offshore oil spill equipment, which can clean about 67,000 tons of leaked oil during a response, according to the center.

The China National Offshore Oil Corp plans to build 18 emergency and response bases for oil spills and 15 environmental protection vessels as of 2020, to cover all of China's waters, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Hot Topics