Indonesia govt finally files lawsuit against PTTEP Thailand over Montara oil leak

Image credit : WWF Australia

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The Indonesian government has filed a Rp 27.4 trillion compensation lawsuit at the Central Jakarta District Court over the explosion tragedy at the Montara oil and gas field in Australia in 2009, which has polluted the waters of the Timor Sea, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province.

The lawsuit was filed on May 3 against the Australian Petroleum Authority of Thailand Exploration and Production Australasia (PTTEP AA),  the Petroleum Authority of Thailand Exploration and Production Public Company Limited (PTTEP) and the Petroleum Authority of Thailand Public Company Limited (PTT PCL) based in Thailand. PTTEP is a state-owned enterprise (SOE) of Thailand.

“We are filing lawsuit to seek compensation payment of Rp 27.4 trillion. We filed a civil suit with the Central Jakarta District Court. This is an effort to seek justice for the PTTEP oil spill in Montara,” said Deputy of Maritime Sovereignty of the Coordinating Ministry for the Ministry of Marine Affairs Maritime) Arif Havas Oegroseno in Jakarta, last Friday (May 5).

Havas explained that the value of the compensation lawsuit is divided into two components, namely loss of environmental damages worth Rp 23 trillion and environmental damage recovery cost of Rp 4.4 trillion. Environmental damage mainly related with the devastation of mangrove area totaling  ​​700 hectares, 1,400 hectares of sea grass and 1,200 hectares of coral reefs.

“In addition to asking for compensation, we also ask for confiscation of movable and immovable assets from the defendant, asset that is in Indonesia and abroad,” he said.

Director of Dispute Resolution of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Jasmin Ragil Utama said the government used Law No. 32 of 2009 on Environmental Protection and Management as the basis of the lawsuit. The environental damage has breached the article 1365 of the Civil Code as well as the Environmental Law Article 87, Article 88.

Since the explosion of the Montara oil well on Aug. 21, 2009, which polluted some of the southern coastal areas of NTT, the government continues to pursue compensation. After the deadlocked negotiations in 2012, the government concluded that there has been no good faith shown by PTTEP to provide compensation to the community.

In fact, there are hundreds of thousands of victims of pollution impacts, ranging from reduced fish stag, seaweed cultivation that failed miserably, to the health effects or strange diseases that attack coastal communities.

In contrast, PTTEP through the website cites independent research results that there is no oil from the Montara refinery entering the mainland areas of Indonesia and Australia. The location of the Montara refinery in Australian waters is only a few kilometers from the boundary of Indonesia-Australia border. Even on several occasions, PTTEP claims that oil spills have little impact on marine ecosystems or species in the waters of the Timor Sea. (*)