Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Pertamina Admits 5,000-Barrel Oil Spill In Indonesia’s Kutai National Park

A photo accompanies this article. To see the photo please click on the link at the bottom of this page.


September 15, 2009

Kafil Yamin, The Jakarta Globe

Indonesia's state oil and gas producer PT Pertamina is negotiating to compensate farmers in East Kalimantan whose land was tainted by a previously undisclosed oil spill at a well in Kutai National Park, where the company has a concession.

The company said the spill, estimated by an official as the equivalent of 5,000 barrels of crude oil, occurred last month when a storage tank overflowed, but Pertamina did not announce the incident until contacted by the Jakarta Globe on Monday.

The company began negotiating with local farmers living inside the park, apparently illegally, on the same day.

An environmental investigator in East Kalimantan told the Globe that local residents claim the oil spill originated from inside the underground well.

He said oil that flowed out damaged tracts of virgin forest in the park. Some of the oil also flowed into the Sangata River.

The investigator, who asked not to be named, estimates that thousands of animals, including rare types of fish and reptiles, would be affected by the oil spill.

Mochammad Harun, a public relations manager for Pertamina, acknowledged the environmental accident when contacted by the Globe, though he described it as a “minor leak.”

“The oil spilled over from a tank and flowed into several parts of the forest and farms,” he said.

“But we will restore all of the damaged parts of the forest. It will take around two or three months for the land to totally recover. As for the affected farms, we will offer compensation for every lost tree. We won’t compensate for land because it belongs to the park.”

After the spill occurred on Aug. 12, staff members from the Pertamina site fought to contain the oil, but they were unsuccessful.

People in the village of Sangkima in Sangata subdistrict, where the spill occurred, said that Pertamina told them they would be compensated on the condition that they didn’t speak about the oil spill to outsiders. Syaid Ramadhan, village chief of Sangkima, said they were in talks with Pertamina over payment for their losses.

“But compensation will be about the plantations, not the land, because the land belongs to Kutai National Park,” he said.

Muchlisin, a Pertamina employee in Sangata, claimed that the oil spill damaged farm areas belonging to “only 10 families.”

Kutai is a haven for endangered animals such as the orangutan and rare species including the maroon leaf monkey, clouded leopard, black flying squirrel and flat-headed cat.