Chinese court rejects legal action on ConocoPhillips oil spill

BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese court has dismissed a legal action against the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) for allowing US oil major ConocoPhillips to resume production after spills off northern China, an official said on Thursday.

"The conclusion of the case is dismissal," a member of staff at the Beijing No.1 Intermediate People's Court, who did not give her name, told AFP.

The state-backed All-China Environment Federation launched an administrative misconduct lawsuit against the SOA last month.

It is rare for a Chinese official agency to face court action from another government-backed entity.

The case related to oil spills in June 2011 at the offshore Penglai field, jointly developed by ConocoPhillips and state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation, which saw 3,000 barrels of oil and oil-based mud vent into the sea.

ConocoPhillips was ordered to cease production in September 2011 following the spills, which the SOA classified as "severe accidents".

But the agency approved the resumption of production in February this year, despite the lack of any public hearings or feasibility studies, reports said.

The lawsuit came amid vows by the Communist Party to crack down on official corruption and pressure officials to be more accountable for their actions as it seeks to assuage public frustrations.

The SOA has responsibility for a wide range of oceanic and maritime laws and policies, including safeguarding maritime rights and interests, according to its website.