Indonesia: Burst undersea pipeline caused oil spill, says Pertamina

N.Adri The Jakarta Post 4 Apr 18;

State oil and gas company Pertamina said on Wednesday a burst pipeline -- which it used to transfer crude oil from the Lawe-lawe Terminal in North Penajam Paser regency, East Kalimantan, to an oil refinery facility in Balikpapan -- caused the oil spill that polluted Balikpapan Bay on Saturday.

“The pipeline is located 25 meters under the sea,” said Pertamina Refinery Unit (RU) V general manager Togar MP in Balikpapan on Wednesday.

He added that the pipeline was still wrapped in a cement casing to prevent it from rusting and to make it withstand water pressure. The crude oil distribution pipeline was installed in 1998.

Divers dispatched to investigate the incident reported that the pipeline had moved around 120 m from its initial location. “We are still investigating the cause of the burst pipeline,” said East Kalimantan Police’s special crime director Sr.Comr. Yustan Alpian.

Pertamina was still calculating the volume of oil leaked into the sea, Togar said.

“When the leakage was first detected, we closed the distribution line of crude oil from Lawe-lawe to Balikpapan straightaway to prevent it from getting worse,” he added.

It was only after Pertamina checked the 10th oil spill sample that it confirmed that it was crude oil and not Marine Fuel Oil (MFO) it had first suspected.

Following the finding, Pertamina dispatched a team of divers to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the oil pipeline from Lawe-lawe to Balikpapan. (ebf)


Deadly Indonesia oil spill caused by burst pipe: company

AFP Yahoo News 4 Apr 18;

Balikpapan (Indonesia) (AFP) - An oil spill off Borneo island that led to five deaths and the declaration of a state of emergency was caused by a ruptured undersea pipe, Indonesia's national oil company Pertamina said Wednesday.

The leakage, which started in waters near Balikpapan city early Saturday, has spread at least 26 kilometres (16 miles) and coated large areas of the coast in thick black sludge.

Five fishermen died in a fire sparked by workers who were trying to clear the spill by burning it off the water's surface, a local search and rescue agency spokesman said.

"They were a group of men who were on vacation together and went fishing," said Octavianto, a senior official of the East Borneo search and rescue agency, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

State-owned Pertamina, which had initially denied responsibility, said Wednesday that one of its pipes used for transporting crude oil, laid about 25 metres below the sea surface, was the source of the huge leak.

"Since it was first detected, we have closed the crude oil supply from Lawe-lawe to Balikpapan as a precaution," Pertamina spokesman Togar MP told reporters.

Police and Pertamina are investigating the source of the pipe fracture but initial inspections by divers show that it has shifted about 120 metres from its initial location on the seabed.

A state of emergency was declared Tuesday in Balikpapan as local officials warned residents not to light cigarettes in the area and distributed gas masks because of the acrid fumes and smoke.

Dramatic aerial photos showed masses of crude oil spread across the surface of the ocean and black blobs covering beaches.

The precise impact on sea life is not yet clear, but one endangered Irrawaddy dolphin has washed ashore dead.

Several oil booms have been deployed to try contain the spill with about 69,300 cubic metres having been collected as of Tuesday evening, the environment ministry said in a statement.

"We have asked the team as well as Pertamina to prioritise the cleaning of oil spills in residential areas due to the stench and other potential risks," said Environment Minister Nurbaya Bakar.


Ministry investigates impacts of Balikpapan oil spill on sea ecosystem
The Jakarta Post 5 Apr 18;

The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry’s research and human resources agency head Zulficar Mochtar said the oil spill in Balikpapan Bay, East Kalimantan had become a complicated problem as the ministry had received reports that the incident had caused pollution in other areas such in Bintan, Riau Islands and Jakarta Bay.

“This sea pollution cannot be solved alone [by the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry]. All ministries and related parties need to contribute to preventing this problem from worsening, with each party having their own function,” said Zulficar as quoted by kompas.com on Thursday.

Zulficar said the ministry was researching and collecting data on the impacts of the oil spill, especially on the sea ecosystem. “We will be paying attention to protocols or standard operating procedures in handling the problem,” he said.

Zulficar further said the oil leak problem could not be solved quickly because the impacts of the oil spill could expand and there would be a continuation of the problem. Hence, this case must be handled thoroughly and sustainably.

“We must first check the possible correlation of the incident with the patterns of the sea currents, the rise and fall of the tides, and oceanography factors. We also must assess specific organisms affected by the pollution and the extent of the damage, as well as the impacts of the problem on the country’s economy,” said Zulficar.

State oil and gas company Pertamina said on Wednesday a burst pipeline had caused the oil spill that polluted Balikpapan Bay on Saturday. (ebf)

N.Adri from Balikpapan contributed to this story


Pertamina makes headway in cleaning Balikpapan spill
Novi Adri The Jakarta Post 6 Apr 18;

On the fifth day after Saturday's oil spill in Balikpapan Bay, the pollution has begun to clear, the waters off East Kalimantan's Semayang Port returning to a deep green with no visible oil slicks.

“We dispatched no less than 1,000 people to clean the oil spill. We also had the support of volunteers from various civil society groups, students, community members and environmental activists,” Yudi Nugrahastate, Kalimantan regional manager of social responsibility and communications at state oil and gas company Pertamina, said on Thursday.

Yudi added that Pertamina had also deployed 15 vessels to tackle the polluted area in four predetermined zones. The first zone stretches from Pertamina's Jetty 1 to Kampung Baru. The second zone covers the waters off Semayang Port, while the third covers Monpera Beach, and the fourth covers Balikpapan Bay.

He said Pertamina had utilized a variety of techniques and equipment for cleaning the oil spill, from vacuum trucks, to oil booms and to oil spill dispersant (OSD). “To clean the waters of the beach, we used oil skimmers and tug boats,” Yudi added.

The residents of Kampung Atas Air Margasari have also helped by collecting thousands of liters of oil by hand, which Pertamina’s clean-up teams picked up for hazardous and toxic waste treatment.

Read also: Balikpapan declares emergency status after oil spill
“We have been cleaning up the spill since Monday afternoon, when the Balikpapan administration declared emergency status,” said Ride, the head of Margasari subdistrict. (ebf)


Balikpapan oil spill widening: Ministry
The Jakarta Post 17 Apr 18;

The area affected by an oil spill in Balikpapan Bay, East Kalimantan, has widened although it remains unclear what exactly is causing the spread, an official has said.

Widodo Pranowo, the head of the marine and coastal area data laboratory of the Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Ministry, said on Friday that the area polluted by the oil spill in had widened to 20,000 hectares from 12,987 hectares.

“There is a possibility that the source of the leak has not been perfectly sealed. But also there is a possibility that the spill has been thinning and drifting away with the currents,” he said as quoted by Kompas newspaper.

The oil spill reportedly came from a broken pipe belonging to state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina.

Widodo, who examined the oil spill area through satellite imaging, said more thorough research was needed to determine the cause of the spread.

Pertamina says it has deployed four cleaner teams and 15 cleaner ships to clean up the bay.

Yudi Nugraha, Kalimantan regional manager of social responsibility and communications at Pertamina said the company had utilized a variety of techniques and equipment for cleaning the oil spill, from vacuum trucks, to oil booms and oil spill dispersant (OSD).

“To clean the waters of the beach, we’re using oil skimmers and tug boats,” Yudi added.

“We’ve dispatched no fewer than 1,000 people to clean up the oil spill. We also have the support of volunteers from various civil society groups, students, community members and environmental activists,” he said.

MR Karliyansyah, director general of pollution control in the Environment and Forestry Ministry, said Pertamina promised to have the spill cleaned by April 9. (gis/ahw)

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