Pipeline accidents in China during the past week have killed more than 50 people, led to the arrests of nine officials, caused two large oil spills, and triggered evacuations. Both of the ruptured pipelines were owned by China’s largest oil refiner, China Petroleum, also known as Sinopec. Here are the basics:
Leak and explosion on Friday
A pipeline ruptured in the eastern port city of Qingdao, causing crude to gush into streets and into the sea. Several hours later, with cleanup underway, the crude exploded, igniting a street filled with shops and apartments. The latest confirmed death toll is 55 people, with nine still missing and 136 reported injured. Oil dispersants are being sprayed over an oil spill stretching from Jiaozhou Bay into the Yellow Sea. The government blamed human error. On Tuesday, the AP reported that seven company officials and two Qingdao city employees were in custody.
Leak on Tuesday
On the other side of the country, in Anshun City in the southwestern Guizhou province, a crane toppled over on Tuesday at a high-speed railway construction site, splitting open a pipeline used to transport gasoline. Residents within a mile of the accident were evacuated and the Press Trust of India is reporting that an estimated 2,200 tons of gasoline has spilled. A team of 110 people is working to repair the pipe and mop up the toxic fuel.
WTF is going on?
A fossil-fueled energy boom feeding China’s economic growth is what’s going on.
“The ever-growing refining capacity and oil infrastructure in China had certainly seen a rising number of incidents,” Andrey Kryuchenkov, an analyst at VTB Capital in London, told Bloomberg. “The Sinopec pipeline explosion will surely see a prolonged investigation and a safety review.”