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Dozens Rescued From Offshore Chinese Rig After Storm

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Sept. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Thirty-two workers trapped on an offshore rig that is listing after a typhoon swept through China’s third-biggest oilfield have been rescued. Two crew members were plucked from the sea and a further two are missing.

No oil leaked after valves at the No. 3 rig operated by China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. were turned off, China Petrochemical Corp., parent of the company known as Sinopec, said in a statement on its website today. The platform at Shengli field off Shandong province was hit by Typhoon Malou at 6.52 p.m. local time yesterday, according to the statement.

A blast at BP Plc’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico in April killed 11 workers, spilled more than 4 million barrels of oil into the sea and sparked a debate on whether tighter industry regulations are needed. The platform at Shengli field, Sinopec’s biggest, is tilting at an angle of 45 degrees, the Ministry of Transport said in a statement on its website.

“It doesn’t appear this incident will have a great impact on Sinopec, but it shows there’s much greater awareness about issues of safety and environmental protection since the BP oil slick,” said Wang Aochao, a Shanghai-based analyst at UOB-Kay Hian Ltd. “The BP accident received a lot of publicity in China, and the government and companies want to ensure that similar disasters don’t happen here.”

The rig is in shallow waters 7 meters (23 feet) deep and 5 nautical miles off the Shandong coast, the transport ministry said. Waves as tall as 4 meters had slammed into the platform, which is now “generally stable,” Sinopec’s parent said, without giving production details.

Rescue vessels from the eastern province were unable to berth at the rig last night because of high winds, according to the ministry. The workers were rescued this morning, said Sinopec Group, as China Petrochemical is known.

Oilfield Safety

Sinopec fell 0.5 percent to HK$6.31 in Hong Kong trading today, compared with the 1.5 percent drop in the benchmark Hang Seng Index. Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore energy explorer, declined 0.4 percent.

Cnooc took more than 12 months to restore output at its 22,000 barrel-a-day rig at Liuhua field after it was damaged by Typhoon Chanchu in 2006. The closure cut about 5 percent of Cnooc’s overall production during that period.

China, the world’s second-biggest oil user, faces a “tough” situation in offshore oilfield safety, Wang Dexue, deputy director at the State Administration of Work Safety, said on June 10. “Risks” in oil and gas exploration in Chinese waters are rising as facilities age, Wang said.

China National Offshore Oil Corp., Cnooc’s parent, may delay the startup of its first deepwater rig to be deployed in the South China Sea because of safety reviews, Chen Bi, the unit’s executive vice president, said on June 8.

Exploration in the Gulf of Mexico has slowed since the BP accident, Baker Hughes Inc. said on June 4. Cnooc plans to start operating nine new projects off the Chinese coast this year to help drive production growth.

To contact the Bloomberg staff on this story: Baizhen Chua in Beijing at bchua14@bloomberg.net; Winnie Zhu in Shanghai at wzhu4@bloomberg.net; John Duce in Hong Kong at Jduce1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Clyde Russell at crussell7@bloomberg.net; John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net.

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