The Indonesian government is set to launch domestic and international legal action against Thailand’s PTTEP over the 2009 Montara oil spill off Australia.
The lawsuits relate to the environmental impact and economic losses suffered by communities around Kupang in Indonesian territorial waters.
“My job is to defend the interests of the Indonesian people. Look at the destruction of algae, which is people’s livelihood. It must be protected,” said the Minister in charge of the coordination of maritime affairs and investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.
The national lawsuit against Thailand’s national exploration company will be conducted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, local daily Tempo reported.
Meanwhile, the international trial will be under the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.
“We are serious about handling this and we will fight with all our efforts,” Luhut added.
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“Our position is firm and we don’t want to compromise on this. PTTEP made a mistake so they have to pay compensation to the community,” he said.
Last year, an Australian court ruled in favor of Indonesian seaweed farmers whose livelihoods were affected by the oil spill. However, PTTEP has appealed the decision which could ultimately see it having to pay compensation totaling over $260 million. The appeal hearing is scheduled for June.
In 2012, PTTEP Australasia pleaded guilty in Darwin Magistrates Court to four counts related to the Montara oil spill.
“From the outset, we have acknowledged responsibility for the incident and deeply regret that it happened. Mistakes were made that should never be repeated,” Ken Fitzpatrick, then chief executive, said at the time. PTTEP Australia.
However, although the company has admitted to being negligent in its operations at Montara, it maintains that no oil has ever reached the shores of the islands.
“No oil reached the shore. The closest oil to landfall was recorded 35 kilometers off the Australian coast and 94 kilometers off the Indonesian (West Timor) coast,” says the 2017 Montara Lessons Learned report from PTTEP.
PTTEP said that even if the crude had reached the Indonesian coast – around 30,000 barrels were spilled – it would have effectively disintegrated and therefore not be at a concentration toxic to algae.
The Thai company had not responded to the opportunity for further comment at the time of publication.
The producing Montara oil field is now operated by the independent company Jadestone Energy.