Thai company will pay for Timor oil spill

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 07/31/2010 11:37
AM A | A | A|

PTTEP Australasia has agreed to pay Indonesia compensation for damage
to its territory near Timor from an oil spill caused by the Thai
company’s rig, an official says.

“They have agreed to pay our claim,” Indonesian advocacy team leader
Masnellyarti Hilman said.

An exact amount for compensation is still being calculated by the
Indonesian government since the oil slick has expanded to cover over
66,000 square kilometers (sqm) of the Timor Sea.

More than 500,000 tons of oil spilled into the Timor Sea after a
PTTEP Australasia oil platform exploded in the Montara field off
Australia’s north coast in August 2009.

Negotiators from Indonesia and PTTEP Australasia met for the
first time Tuesday in Perth. The
two parties have not yet scheduled meetings.

The team will ask the National Aeronautic and Aviation Agency (LAPAN)
to perform modelling on the areas affected by the spill before
proposing a final amount for compensation, Masnellyarti said.

“We will collect supporting data from the Maritime Affairs and
Fisheries Ministry, which previously reported a level of polycyclic
aromatic hydrocarbons [PAH] that exceeded marine water quality
standards,” she added.

Samples collected by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources
indicate that the hydrocarbons now found in the Timor Sea were
similar to samples taken from the Montara platform, she added.

The Environment Ministry said its analysis showed the quality of sea
water in Timor Sea failed to meet tolerable levels set by Indonesian
government.

The ministry sampled sea water in five different areas.

It said that the total suspended density (TSS) of particulate matter
in the samples was at 147 milligram per liter (mg/l), far higher than
the tolerable level of 20 mg/l.

The East Nusa Tenggara environmental agency also found physical and
chemical contamination from the oil spill that exceeded the tolerable
level set by the Indonesian government.

The Montara field was developed by the Norwegian and Bermudan-owned
Seadrill company and operated by PTTEP Australasia, a unit of PTT,
the Thai state-owned oil and gas company.

The company’s oil platform exploded spilled more than 500,000 liters
of crude oil into the Timor Sea.

Thirty-eight percent of Indonesia’s sea territory in the Timor
Sea was affected by the spill, local fishermen’s catches dropped
and thousands of tons of dead shallow water fish and whales were
discovered.

The spill also destroyed seaweed farms cultivated by coastal
communities in East Nusa Tenggara.

Transportation Minister Freddy Numberi, who is the head of
the National Team for Ocean Oil Spill Emergency Situations,
previously said the government asked PTTEP Australasia to pay US$5
million in initial compensation to repair environmental damage from the
spill.

The initial payment will cover the short-term impacts of the spill,
such as losses suffered by fishermen and seaweed farmers in the area,
and is estimated to exceed Rp 247 billion, he said

“That was the figure when the oil spill area was still around 56,000
sqm. Now that the area extends over 66,000 sqm. We must recalculate
the figure,” he said.

The East Nusa Tenggara provincial administration estimated damage
from the oil spill in the short term could reach Rp 806.17 billion.

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