BEIJING, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- ConocoPhillips said it has sealed the leaks from its drilling platforms in China's Bohai Bay and submitted a report on the causes of the oil spill by the Aug. 31 deadline set by the State Oceanic Administration, China's CNTV reports.
Since the oil spill broke out June 4 in the Penglai 19-3 field, a total of 16 leak sources have been discovered. ConocoPhillips said 12 of those leaks have since been contained and cleanup is 99 percent complete.
ConocoPhillips estimates 3,200 barrels of oil have gone into Bohai Bay.
Penglai, jointly owned by ConocoPhillips with a 49 percent stake and China National Offshore Oil Corp. with a 51 percent stake, is one of China's largest offshore oil fields. Last year daily net crude oil production averaged approximately 56,000 barrels of oil per day.
The total spill covers an area of at least 2,125 square miles, SOA says.
SOA told state-run news agency Xinhua Wednesday that while it had received the required report, it still needed to carry out a site inspection and full evaluation to verify ConocoPhillips' conclusions about the spill.
Strong winds and high waves Thursday morning forced cleanup crews to leave the site.
SOA said it is preparing to sue ConocoPhillips for its role in the spill, with Xinhua citing an agency spokesman as saying 49 Chinese law firms had applied to provide legal assistance.
"We are ready for a long-term lawsuit," China Daily newspaper quoted an insider of the administration's legal team as saying Wednesday.
"The cleanup continues and the environmental effects won't fade away for a while," she said.
An unsigned editorial in China's Global Times chided the Houston company, saying, "ConocoPhillips is like certain Westerners who live in China. They can be quite law-abiding back home, but break the law in China. Some global corporations can even outsmart their Chinese counterparts in under-the-table deals, bribing officials and cutting employee benefits. ConocoPhillips is digging not only a hole in Bohai Bay but also a hole in China's legal system."
But U.S. energy analysts told The New York Times last week China is following "a delicate political strategy" regarding punishment for ConocoPhillips so as not to disrupt foreign investment in energy.
"China needs all the help it can get to achieve energy efficiency, so they can't afford to play hardball," said Fadel Gheit, a senior oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Co.