China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) kept a leakage at its oilfield off the coast of Penglai in Yantai city, Shandong province, a secret for almost half a month. Though details of the accident are still unknown, reports say that ConocoPhillips China (CPOC), the operator of CNOOC's Penglai 19-3 oilfield, observed the leakage "in early or mid-June" and has "effectively controlled" it. This is far from satisfactory, says an article in Changjiang Daily. Excerpts:
This is not the first time that CNOOC has maintained silence over an accident. The company has still not made public the details of the May 13, 2010, leakage in one of its offshore oil rigs in the South China Sea.
This time, CNOOC has used only 20 Chinese characters to say "an oil leakage occurred in June, oil sheen was seen on the sea surface and the leakage has been controlled."
The accident is not a problem for CNOOC alone. It is related to public safety and marine ecology, too, because oil has spilled into the Bohai Sea.
Whenever an accident occurs, a company is bound to make all relevant information public - and keep updating it from time to time - because the public has a right to know and the administration, if the situation demands, needs to take corrective measures.
The accidents in the Gulf of Mexico and Dalian last year should have made CNOOC realize the importance of letting the public know and acting immediately to contain an oil slick.
Perhaps CNOOC tried to protect its corporate image by keeping the news secret. But CNOOC is an experienced enough company to know that keeping the truth from the public can give rise to rumors and cause much greater harm to its reputation and business.
By keeping the accident secret for about two weeks, CNOOC has lost public trust.
The opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
(China Daily 07/06/2011 page9)