Indonesia: Footing Bill for Environmental Damage from Pertamina Oil Spill

Tempo 20 Apr 18;

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Greenomics Indonesia, a social institution which focuses on environmental economics, had put a number on the amount of losses which resulted from the crude oil spill from a Pertamina pipeline which passes along the bottom of Balikpapan Bay, East Kalimantan, on Saturday three weeks ago.

A Director-General of Law Enforcement of the Environment and Forestry Ministry Royas Rasio Ridho Sani is known was angry because Greenomics had come up with the figure prematurely. He was concerned that this would make things more difficult for the Environment Ministry, which was in the process of calculating the damage to the environment which had resulted from the Pertamina oil spill. "If our demands are lower than the figure from Greenomics, there will be an uproar," said Roy in his office at the Environment Ministry in Jakarta. On the other hand, if the figure reached by the Ministry is higher, Roy is concerned that the difference could be exploited to reduce the credibility of their calculation.

In their release on Wednesday last week, Greenomics stated that the Pertamina oil spill in the waters of Balikpapan Bay was equivalent to an area 20,000 times larger than Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta. The minimum amount of ecological damage was said to be US$8.27 billion, or about Rp110.428 trillion at a US dollar exchange rate of Rp13,700. Their calculation used a benefit transfer approach which referred to the monetary value of several of the main components of the maritime and mangrove ecosystem. "This calculation used an international standard of methodology to quickly provide an initial estimate," said Vanda Mutia Dewi, Executive Director of Greenomics Indonesia.

Vanda¡'s estimate came two weeks after government investigators and experts of the Environment and Forestry Ministry had begun to scour Balikpapan Bay and vicinity. The investigators took seawater and sediment samples from 18 points over a span of two weeks. Seawater samples were taken from 15 locations and sediment samples were taken from three locations. In addition to taking samples, investigators and experts examined conditions on land in the city of Balikpapan and at the North Penajam Paser Regency, two areas which are separated by Balikpapan Bay. Investigators required water and sediment samples in order to measure the level of pollution and environmental damage.

The impact of the spill was also assessed by the Environment Ministry starting on Saturday three weeks ago. The area was scanned just an hour after a coal cargo ship sailing under the flag of Panama, the MV EverJudger, caught fire in Balikpapan Bay. "At that time the closest team was in Samarinda," said Roy. In order to search a larger area, the Environment Ministry wanted to use a large fixed-wing drone to capture images of the sea from the atmosphere. "Unfortunately, we were not authorized to fly because it was in a civil aviation area." The bay is indeed close to flight routes around Sepinggan Airport, Balikpapan.

How much will Pertamina have to pay due to this disaster? Pertamina Company Secretary Adiatma Sardjito said that the company is still focusing on cleaning up the oil spill. Pertamina, according to him, has not yet calculated the potential losses resulting from the oil spill and other burdens. "We are still focusing on social and environmental recovery," said Adiatma, on Friday last week.

Pertamina completes removal of broken oil pipes in Balikpapan
N. Adri The Jakarta Post 23 Apr 18;

The removal of broken undersea oil pipes in Balikpapan Bay, East Kalimantan, was completed on Sunday afternoon after being hampered by bad weather on Saturday.

State-owned oil and gas company PT Pertamina lifted the last piece of the pipe on Sunday after removing the first two on Friday. The first piece measured 7 m and weighed 3.5 metric tons, the second 12 m and 9 tons. The last one was 24 m and 12 tons.

The pipe was made of 12-milimeter-thick steel and measured around 30 centimeters in diameter. It had been covered with concrete and planted more than 20 m under the seabed.

Pertamina used a crane and deployed 19 divers for the mission, which had been ordered by the East Kalimantan Police’s Special Crime Directorate. The lifting was supervised by the police, Balikpapan Prosecutors’ Office and Indonesian Navy.

“Cutting the pipe took quite some time,” Yudi Nugraha, Pertamina’s manager of communications and corporate social responsibility (CSR) for Kalimantan, said over the weekend.

A preliminary investigation concluded that the pipe broke and began leaking after it was dragged 120 m from its initial location by the anchor of Panamian ship MV Ever Judger. The ship is now accused of dropping anchor in a prohibited area.

Reports say the anchor was 3 m tall, 2 m wide and weighed 12 tons.

“Our divers found a gorge [in the seabed], 1.6 m to 2.5 m wide, 40 cm to 70 cm deep and 498.82 m in length,” head of the Navy’s Hydrography and Oceanography Center, Cmdr. Harjo Susmoro, said on Saturday.

He suspected it had been the result of the anchor dragging across the seabed.

Joko Suyono, secretary of Indonesian National Shipowner Association (INSA) in Balikpapan, said ships were not allowed to drop anchor haphazardly in Semayang Port.

Ship captains are required to report their arrival to the port traffic controller and local authorities. Afterwards, a tugboat would escort the ship through the bay, he said.

Director of the East Kalimantan Police’s Special Crime Directorate, Sr. Comr. Yustan Alpiani, said investigators have a recording of the MV Ever Judger’s communications.

On the day the oil spill triggered a fire, the MV Ever Judger was also set ablaze and the Water Police saved the ship’s 22-member crew. One of them suffered serious burns and is being treated at Pertamina Balikpapan Hospital. (evi)