China suffered its largest-ever oil spill in July and the danger it poses has not yet gone away: problems flared up again at the weekend when an oil tank caught on fire during ongoing cleanup efforts at the Xingang port in Dalian.
The newspaper headlines and front-page images of the inferno blaze, which was put out Sunday night, have brought the disaster back into public view. And for some in China, the public attention will be welcome.
Nearby fisherman who have been unable to work since the oil spill have yet to receive any compensation after attempting several lawsuits, and media attention on their cause is on the wane.
Dmitry Medvedev, the president of Russia, is in China this week for talks aimed at cementing a new partnership between the world’s biggest energy producer and consumer.
But China, despite its hunger for new oil and gas supplies, is playing hard to get.
“Russia is ready to meet China’s full demand for gas,” Igor Sechin, the powerful Russian deputy prime minister, told reporters in Beijing on Monday.
China is rich in coal-bed methane, a gas that can be used for fuel. But production has not proved easy. This year output of the gas will be less than a quarter of the official target.
Transport is a key obstacle. China’s pipeline network is dominated by oil giants CNPC and Sinopec, making it difficult for gas suppliers to get access. Now one company, Green Dragon Gas, has found a way to skirt the issue – by selling its coal-bed methane directly to customers.