NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The Chinese oil spill crisis began just a day after BP ( BP) recorded its first success last Thursday with a cap on the leaking Macondo well.

China's lead over the U.S. in some areas -- just look at manufacturing -- has become a staple of economic rhetoric. However, there's at least one battle that China won't want to claim as a victory over the U.S.: worst oil spill of 2010.

The Chinese spill began last Friday in the northern port city of Dalian, when a pipeline exploded, releasing a flow of oil into the Yellow Sea. A faulty chemical catalyst added to an oil storage tank is being blamed for the disaster.

Because the Chinese spill occurred on the heels of the BP spill, it provides the opportunity to compare the two environmental disasters.

Chinese Oil Spill Size
The spill doubled in size by Wednesday, but at 165 square miles, it pales in comparison to the blanket of crude covering 2,700 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico, according to an AP estimate. Even so, Chinese authorities have set up monitoring operations for a 1,500 square kilometer area.

Clearly, the Chinese spill has a long way to go to catch up with the BP disaster. Because the source was a pipeline explosion as opposed to an unquantifiable deep-sea reservoir of oil, China may lose the dubious race for 2010's environmental enemy No. 1.

Chinese Oil Spill Cleanup and Containment
Forty skimming vessels and 800 fishing boats have been working to contain and clean up the Chinese oil spill since last week, the Chinese Xinhua News Agency reported. BP has had 43,100 people and 6,470 vessels involved in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill containment effort.

Ironically, as China stepped up its efforts to control the Chinese oil spill, BP was reducing the total number of vessels active in the Gulf of Mexico, as the new BP cap has stopped the flow of oil.

Skimming operations in the Gulf of Mexico have recovered 807,143 barrels (33.9 million gallons) of oily liquid, according to BP.

More than 15,000 meters of oil barriers to prevent the Chinese oil spill from spreading have been laid down in the Yellow Sea by Chinese oil companies and marine agencies, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The total length of containment boom deployed as part of BP and government efforts to prevent oil from reaching the Gulf coast covered 3.36 million feet (681.8 miles) by Monday.

There are some notable differences in containment techniques being used in the Chinese oil spill when compared to the BP and U.S. government response.

In the BP oil spill, a total of 408 controlled burns have been carried out, eliminating an estimated 261,904 barrels of oil (11 million gallons) from the Gulf of Mexico surface.

BP has also used a controversial chemical dispersant, Corexit, to break down oil from the spill.

In China, 23 tons of oil-eating bacteria are being used to clean the polluted waters, according the Xinhua News Agency.

Tourism Impact
Chinese state-run newspapers report that beaches have been closed and a resort island off the coast of Dalian closed for tourism.

The ultimate toll to the tourism, and other economic engines, of the five Gulf states impacted by the BP oil spill -- Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Texas -- will take years to quantify. BP has already paid $207 million in claims from residents and businesses in the Gulf coast impacted by the oil spill.

Market Impact
The Chinese-traded Dalian Port Co. declined 5% on Monday, but has since rallied.

PetroChina ( PTR) has been largely unaffected by the Chinese oil spill, and its refinery operations in Dalian are operating normally, according to a Bloomberg report.

Oil processing was reduced in the days after the pipeline explosion by West Pacific Petrochemical , a refinery run by PetroChina and Sinochem Group, and some crude shipments diverted, but the Dalian port has reopened to crude deliveries, according to the Bloomberg. Earlier reports had suggested the port might be closed for at least a week.

BP is rallying after announcing a deal to sell $7 billion of assets to Apache ( APA), coupled with its initial success with a cap stopping any oil flow into the Gulf. However, BP is still down 40%, and shares of rig operator Transocean ( RIG) and minority owner Anadarko Petroleum ( APC) have declined by similar percentages.

The entire U.S. offshore drilling industry is still on pins and needles -- as opposed to deep under the sea with drills -- as a result of the BP oil spill and the current moratorium on deep-sea drilling. A much stricter enforcement framework and new requirements for safety and drilling equipment are expected to reshape the U.S. oil industry.

Preventable Disasters?
The Chinese National Business Daily reported that oil facilities at the Dalian port received a warning about fire and explosion hazards a year ago.

The major integrated oil companies in the U.S. and abroad continue to say the BP oil spill was preventable and it would not have occurred based on their deepwater drilling practices. BP has been charged with gross negligence by Anadarko Petroleum, as the battle goes on to figure out which company will pay what with the oil spill liabilities.

There may be only two respects, at least at this point, in which the BP oil spill and Chinese oil spill are even: the tragic nature of the environmental disasters, and the power of the images from the oil spills.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
The images of Gulf of Mexico seabirds drenched in heavy crude has become a signature image of the BP ( BP) oil spill. Now, images are flooding the Internet from China of workers drowning in oil on the open sea, and being carried to shore with their skin completely covered in a black slicker of oil.

Loss of Life

Eleven rig workers died in the explosion on the Transocean Deepwater Horizon rig.

Two Chinese oil workers who were pictured drowning in oil as they fought to contain the spill were rescued by firefighters, but Xinhua reported that one firefighter involved in the Chinese oil spill response was killed when he was swept away by a wave while trying to repair a boat.

-- Written by Eric Rosenbaum from New York.

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