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Oil spill in Indonesia to cost state firm millions

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Residents of Indonesia’s Cemaranaya beach clean up the oil spill from nearby offshore oil and gas block Offshore North West Java (ONWJ) operated by state energy giant Pertmina’s upstream unit Pertamina Hulu Energi (PHE). M IBNU CHAZAR/ANTARA

Oil spill in Indonesia to cost state firm millions

Indonesian state oil and gas giant Pertamina has to spend hundreds of billions of rupiah (tens of millions of US dollars) to deal with a broken well that has been spilling oil for more than a month at its Offshore North West Java (ONWJ) Block.

Bayu Satya, the Oil Spill Combat Team (OSCT) Indonesia chairman, said Pertamina needed a large amount of money to rent a new rig that would be used to close the well and equipment to contain the spill.

“The cost of stopping and overcoming the oil spill will be so enormous as a lot will be spent on renting the rig in order to make a relief well and to finance the OSCT’s operation. And we don’t know when it will be stopped,” he told the Jakarta Post recently.

The OSCT, an oil spill management company, is Pertamina’s partner in handling the accident, deploying personnel to operate oil-capture equipment, such as octopus skimmers and oil boom equipment.

Meanwhile, for the mission to close down the broken well, Pertamina hired US well-control company Boots & Coots, which handled the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that took 11 lives.

Boots & Coots has the crucial job of stopping the leak, which occurred at one of the three wells located beneath ONWJ’s YY oil and gas field. It is working to drill a relief well that will pave the way for the firm to inject it with cement.

The company is an affiliate of US well service contractor Halliburton, which is the subcontractor for the operation at the YY field, where oil was first expected to be produced next month.

Pertamina Hulu Energi (PHE), the ONWJ contractor, reported on Wednesday that the process of closing the well was ongoing with the relief well’s drilling depth sitting at 19.5 per cent of the target.

“The drilling of a relief well, called the YYA1-RW, has reached 540m whilst the target is 2,765m,” PHE spokesperson Ifki Sukarya said in a press statement.

PHE workers, aided by international well control experts, had been drilling a relief well since August 1 to plug the leak at the YY platform, Ifki said.

Karawang Beach incident commander Taufik Adityawarman told reporters on Thursday that the company would need at least 65 days – or until early October – to close down the broken well, which is later than Pertamina’s initial completion time estimate of late next month.

“As of today, we are actually two days ahead of schedule. We want this disaster to end,” he said.

He added that authorities had deployed 45 ships to overcome the oil spill, which reached beaches and villages in Karawang and Bekasi, in addition to deploying 4.7km of static oil boom equipment and four oil skimmers.

Nine areas in Karawang, namely Tanjung Pakis, Segar Jaya, Tambak Sari, Tambak Sumur, Sedari, Cemara Jaya, Sungai Buntu, Pusaka Jaya Utara and Mekar Pohaci, were declared by Pertamina as areas that were impacted by the incident.

PHE president director Meidawati said the company had deployed 37 medical personnel to help locals affected by the oil spill and would pay local fisherfolk at least 100,000 rupiah ($7.05) each day to aid in the oil recovery effort.

Elsewhere, reports said that two beaches in Bekasi – Bahagia and Bakti – and Thousand Islands regency were also impacted.

A statement from the OSCT said Pertamina had asked for more of Pertamina’s workers to help contain the spill as it had reached the Thousand Islands.

“They asked us whether the OSCT has more workers to clean the spill in Thousand Islands. We’ve asked our workers in Papua and in foreign countries and we’re still calculating the cost,” he said.

An estimated 108,000 barrels of oil have spilled into the sea after 36 days since the well broke. The broken well has a capacity of 3,000 barrels of oil per day.

The oil spill was caused by a gas well kick – the release of gas caused by low pressure in a wellbore – on July 12 that worsened two days on.

The kick occurred beneath the ONWJ offshore platform, located 2km north of Karawang.

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