Indonesia to sue PTTEP over 2009 Montara spill

The government of Indonesia is preparing to sue Thailand’s PTTEP oil company for the 2009 Montara oil spill in the Timor Sea.

The Montara project, operated by PTTEP’s Australian subsidiary PTTEP Australasia, is located 690 kilometres east of Darwin and 250 kilometres north-west of the Kimberley coast of Western Australia.

On August 21, 2009, a blowout at the Montara wellhead platform resulted in an uncontrolled flow of hydrocarbons into the Timor Sea. The discharge of oil and gas was stopped on November 3, 2009.

According to a statement released last week on Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs website, the lawsuit will be filed in April, seeking compensation for environmental damage caused by oil pollution in the Timor Sea, offshore East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia’s southernmost province.

Basilio Dias Araujo, assistant to a deputy at Ministry for Maritime Safety and Security, says PTTEP has yet to take responsibility for damage caused to Indonesia.

He said that the Indonesian government had asked for compensation via non-litigation channels, but the negotiation hit the deadlock in 2012, and no agreement was reached.

The Indonesian government has also pointed out to PTTEP’s report which claims no oil reached either Indonesian or Australian shore, also claiming only a small, if any, impact on the Timor Sea ecosystem.

The Indonesian government has said it won’t let the case slip away, and is “preparing ammunition” to bring the case forward.

Offshore Energy Today has reached out to PTTEP, seeking comment.

This is the response we’ve received from a PTTEP spokesperson: “We have always acted cooperatively and in good faith in our past discussions with the Government of Indonesia, and we will continue to do so.”

To remind, in 2012, the Thai company was fined 510.000 Australian Dollars in the Northern Territory Magistrate’s Court over the Montara incident. At a sentencing hearing in Darwin in August 2012, PTTEP AA was convicted and fined for three occupational health and safety offences and one non-OHS offence.

The OHS offences comprised failures by PTTEP AA to verify barriers in the well, which increased the risk of an uncontrolled hydrocarbon release, causing the wellhead platform to be unsafe and a risk to the health of any persons at or near the facility. The non-OHS offence comprised a failure by PTTEP AA to carry out operations in a proper and workmanlike manner and in accordance with good oilfield practice.


Offshore Energy Today Staff