Activists Call for Pertamina to Release Data on Ongoing Oil Spill

Image courtesy Greenpeace Indonesia

Published Sep 18, 2019 8:36 PM by The Maritime Executive

An ongoing spill from an oil well off the coast of West Java has soiled miles of beachfront and impacted traditional fisheries, according to Indonesian activist groups. A coalition of civil society organizations is now calling on state-owned oil major Pertamina to release more information about the response to the spill and the safety of other nearby offshore facilities. 

The YYA-1 well - an offshore borehole in Pertamina's Offshore North West Java management area - suffered a "kick" and loss of well control on July 12. Pertamina has hired American well-control firm Boots & Coots - the same company that handled the 2010 Macondo spill in the Gulf of Mexico - to plug the leak, and it told the New York Times that the effort would take until the end of September at the earliest.

The exact quantity of oil that has been released into the marine environment is unknown, but experts told Vice that the flow rate is in the range of 400-600 bpd. The spill has reached shore in nearby Karawang, and recently arrived in a group of islands to the west of Jakarta, dozens of miles away. Large-scale skimming and beach cleanup efforts are under way, employing thousands of local residents. Pertamina and state environmental agencies have not yet finished an impact assessment for the spill's effects. 

Pertamina says that it is committed to compensating affected residents for damages caused by the spill. So far, it has approved payouts for about 10,000 people in the Karawang regency, where the spill began. The payments amount to 900,000 Indonesian rupiah ($64) per person per month for a two-month period. 

On Tuesday, the Indonesian Coalition for Civil Society Organizations (KORMAS) staged a rally at Pertamina's headquarters to call for immediate disclosure of all data on the YYA-1 well. KORMAS' members, including Greenpeace Indonesia, also asked Pertamina to disclose information about the condition of other wells in the mature Offshore North West Java (ONWJ) exploration area.