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China Fishermen Sue Conoco Unit Over Oil Spill, Xinhua Says

More than 100 Chinese fisherman filed a lawsuit against ConocoPhillip’s China unit seeking 490 million yuan ($77 million) in compensation after an oil spill in June, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The 107 fishermen from Hebei province filed their lawsuit in a maritime court in Tianjin city today, claiming that the oil spill in Bohai Bay killed their clams and sea cucumbers. Xinhua cited Zhao Jingwei, a lawyer with Beijing-based Yingke Law Firm, who is representing the fishermen.

The fishermen must wait seven days for the court to decide if it will accept the case, Xinhua said.

“ConocoPhillips has not been notified of a lawsuit,” John McLemore, the company spokesman, said in an e-mail today.

China ordered ConocoPhillips, operator of Penglai 19-3, to stop production at the country’s biggest offshore field on Sept. 2, saying the Houston-based company failed to contain leaks at the field since June. The oil spill has polluted more than 6,200 square kilometers of water in the bay, an area about nine times the size of Singapore, according to the Xinhua report.

The International Energy Agency in September cut its outlook for China’s 2011 oil production by 1.2 percent to 4.2 million barrels a day because of the closure.

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