Indonesia: At least 10 killed, dozens injured in oil well fire in Aceh

The Jakarta Post 25 Apr 18;

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said on Wednesday that 10 people were killed and dozens injured after an oil well in Pasir Putih village, Ranto Peureulak subdistrict in East Aceh caught fire at 1:30 a.m.

BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said workers had been collecting crude oil from the well prior to the fire.

“We have reason to believe that the blaze had been triggered by sparks from a welding pipe,” Sutopo said, adding that the owner of the well had yet to be confirmed.

Two fire trucks were deployed to the scene at 2:30 a.m.

Sutopo said in a written statement that state-owned oil and gas firm Pertamina and BNPB Aceh would apply special technology to put out the fire.

The fire occurred a month after an oil spill in East Kalimantan that was blamed on a broken pipe belonging to Pertamina. (dmr)

Blazing oil well confirmed illegal: BPBD Aceh
Gemma Holliani Cahya The Jakarta Post 25 Apr 18;

An oil well that caught fire and killed 10 people in Pasir Putih village, Ranto Peureulak subdistrict, East Aceh, on Wednesday morning was illegal, says the Aceh Disaster and Mitigation Agency (BPBD Aceh)

Nineteen people were injured in the incident that also damaged five houses in the village.

“It is an illegal well. The well was built on land belonging to Bu Zainabah, whose house also burned down during the incident. The owner of the well is still unknown because it is a shared well. Some people exploit the crude oil from the well together,” a BPBD Aceh official who requested anonymity told The Jakarta Post in a phone call on Wednesday.

She said the fire had yet to be extinguished. “Two fire trucks were deployed at 2:30 a.m. but nine hours later it has yet to be put out."

Sutopo said state oil and gas firm Pertamina and BPBD Aceh would apply special technology to put out the fire.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry’s law enforcement director general, Rasio Ridho Sani, said the ministry had deployed officials to Pasir Putih village to investigate the incident.

“We have assigned a team to the location,” Rasio told the Post. The fire happened only a month after an oil spill disaster caused by Pertamina's burst undersea pipeline in East Kalimantan.(ebf)


Govt to take legal action against drillers of illegal oil well after fire
Stefanno R. Sulaiman and Gemma Holliani Cahya The Jakarta Post 25 Apr 18;

The government plans to take legal actions against parties responsible for an oil well fire in Aceh on Wednesday morning, said Energy and Mineral Resources Minister spokesman Agung Pribadi.

Ten people were killed in the blaze, which occurred in Pasir Putih village, Ranto Peureulak subdistrict, East Aceh.

“This is an illegal [well]. So, we will take legal action in collaboration with the local law enforcement,” Agung told journalists on Wednesday.

The illegal, 250-meters-deep oil well had been drilled on land belonging to state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina.

The ministry’s oil and gas directorate general and Pertamina have sent a team to Pasar Putih to investigate the incident, Agung said.

At the time of writing, firefighters have still been unable to extinguish the fire.

This is the second incident this month involving crude oil that has triggered an environmental disaster.

On March 31, around 40,000 barrels of Pertamina crude oil leaded from one of the company’s underwater pipelines in Balikpapan Bay, East Kalimantan, causing a fire that killed five fishermen and prompted authorities to declare an emergency status. (ebf)


Death toll in Aceh oil well fire rises to 11
Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post 25 Apr 18;

Personnel from a joint search and rescue (SAR) team have found the body of another victim of an oil well fire in East Aceh regency, Aceh, bringing the death toll in the incident to 11.

Meanwhile, 42 others have been severely injured in the blaze at the well in Pasir Putih village, Ranto Panjang Peureulak district, early on Wednesday.

The 11 fatalities have been identified as Afrizal, Era, Eridansyah, Dedi Syahputera, Kak Nini, Mak Wen, Nazarullah, Putra Jubir, Riski Ardiansyah, Siti Hafsah and Sudaryono. All of the victims are residents of Ranto Peureulak district.

The bodies of the dead have been moved to the Ranto Peureulak community health center (Puskesmas). They were found by the SAR team at a distance of around 10 to 20 meters from the blaze.

East Aceh Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Syahrizal Fauzi said the joint SAR team continued to work to recover other possible victims. “The evacuation process is still being hampered by the blazing fire from the oil well that has not yet been extinguished,” Syahrizal told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

He said all injured victims were being treated at three different hospitals in Peureulak. Twenty people are receiving treatment at Zubir Mahmud Hospital while 16 others are at Abdul Azis Hospital. Meanwhile, six people are being treated at Graha Bunda Hospital.

Syahrizal said the oil well fire also destroyed five houses. Authorities are investigating the cause of the incident. (ebf)


Illegal oil exploration activities in Aceh must stop: WALHI
Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post 25 Apr 18;

Environment watchdog Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) is calling on the government to immediately stop illegal crude oil drilling activities in Aceh, following a fire at an illegal oil well in Peureulak, East Aceh, early on Wednesday that killed 11 people.

WALHI Aceh director M. Nur said his group had reported the illegal crude oil exploration activities in Peureulak to local administrations a long time ago.

However, the authorities have tended to play down their complaints so that the illegal wells continue to operate until today.

“Since 2012, we have called on the government to close down the illegal exploration activities because they are dangerous and have polluted the environment. However, the mining activities conducted in the name of people have continued to take place,” Nur told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

The environmentalist further said Aceh had two illegal crude oil drilling locations, namely in Peureulak and in Bireun. The two sites still operated even though in 2016 an oil well in Bireuen was set ablaze. No fatalities were reported in that incident.

Nur deplored the Aceh administration for not taking tough measures against illegal oil exploration activities that were dangerous to residents living in the surrounding areas. Drilling activities in the illegal wells were conducted without clear regulations and adequate safety equipment.

Citing an example, Nur said, many workers smoked as they carried out drilling activities. They were also not supplied with safety equipment, posing dangers to the drillers themselves and people nearby. (ebf)

At least 18 killed, dozens injured in illegal Indonesia oil well fire
Channel NewsAsia 25 Apr 18;

BANDA ACEH: The death toll from a blaze at an illegal Indonesian oil well on Wednesday (Apr 25) has jumped to 18 with dozens injured, authorities said, warning there could be yet more victims.

Images from the accident showed a towering flame shooting some 70 metres (230 feet) above homes and palm trees dotting a small community in Sumatra island's Aceh province.

Firefighters on Wednesday afternoon were still battling the blaze sparked by an oil spill at about 1.30am in a residential area. Several homes were destroyed.

"We're still unable to control the fire," said Syahrizal Fauzi, head of the local disaster mitigation agency.

"We don't know if there are still victims because we cannot get any closer."

Authorities initially said at least 10 people died and some 40 "severely injured" victims were being treated.

The jump in the death toll was due to the subsequent deaths of eight victims who had been rushed to hospital, authorities said.

"There was a group of people digging in the old well but suddenly a huge fire was sparked and it exploded," said national police spokesman Setyo Wasisto.

The victims were collecting oil from around the entrance of a well bore when the blaze erupted, police said.

It was not known how much oil was spilled or what ignited the fire, but authorities suggested a lit cigarette as a possible cause.

"There were many people there who were smoking," Wasisto said.

"It's a village, so many were scrambling to get oil and it was crowded."

East Aceh is dotted with numerous small-scale oil drilling operations, which are often run illegally by local villagers.

There are reportedly tens of thousands of such wells across the Indonesian archipelago.

Abandoned oil wells are sometimes re-tapped while locals also drill into fresh sites to find new sources.

Deadly fires are not uncommon in Indonesia, a sprawling country of more than 260 million people where safety regulations are often flouted.

image: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/image/10174344/0x0/3248/4724/be6e0e777ab60d797e57972f2fa730d4/Rc/aceh-3.jpg

Aceh 3
Indonesian fire fighters battle to extinguish a fire at an illegal oil well in Peureulak on April 25, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Ilyas Ismail)
In October 47 people died after a blaze tore through a fireworks factory outside Jakarta.

Workplace safety is often lacking in Indonesia and there are also concerns about lax building standards.

This year Jakarta temporarily halted all elevated transportation projects after a dozen major accidents killed five and wounded dozens more.

That directive followed a balcony collapse at the Jakarta Stock Exchange building which injured dozens.

Source: AFP/ng/ec

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