Indonesia urges Australia to help settle Montara case

Indonesia has urged the Australian government to play an active role in addressing water pollution in the Timor Sea caused by the Montara oil spill.

The Montara oil spill was caused by a huge explosion at an oil well drilled by a subsidiary of state-owned Thai oil firm PTT Exploration and Production Public Company (PTTEP) in Atlas Block on August 21, 2009.

Australia should take part in addressing the water pollution caused by the incident in PTTEP Australasias oil field, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan said here on Friday.

The minister summoned Australian ambassador Paul Grigson to convey Indonesias demand.

“We (the Indonesian government) have asked Australia to take part in settling the issue for it happened in 2009,” he said.

Australia should compensate Indonesians who were directly affected by the oil spill, Luhut said. However, he did not elaborate on the estimated financial loss due to the incident.

“It has been years, there has been no clear solution on this. Now we will handle this offensively,” he stressed.

In August, some 13,000 fishermen and seaweed farmers in East Nusa Tenggara filed a class action suit on the issue against PTTEP Australasia in the Federal Court in Sydney.

Local fishermen claimed that the oil spill had destroyed the ecosystem in the sea and devastated their livelihood for years. Their catch has slumped by 70 percent after the incident.

“Before the Montara oil spill, we could earn more than Rp20 million from catching fish in Timor Sea, but now we can hardly earn Rp5 million,” H. Mustrafa, chairman of the local fishermen association, said.

The oil spill occurred in Australian waters, nearly 700 kilometres west of Darwin and 250 kilometres away from Rote Island in southern Indonesia.

It took just over 10 weeks for the massive oil leak to be plugged and an estimated 300,000 litres of oil gushed into the Timor Sea each day.

Source: Antara News