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Pertamina Oil Spill May Lead to Possible Ecological Disaster
People stand near the carcass of a dolphin after an oil spill at Balikpapan Bay, East Kalimantan, Indonesia in this April 2, 2018 photo obtained from social media. "We suspect the pipe was dragged by the ship that caught fire," Oil and Gas Director General Djoko Siswanto told reporters on Thursday. "At the time it was bad weather, so they had to drop anchor," Siswanto said, noting it was an area where ships were not supposed to anchor. Siswanto did not identify the vessel, but said it was a coal ship with a Panama flag. Imeida Tandrin/via REUTERS
Saturday, 07 April, 2018 | 16:20 WIB
Pertamina Oil Spill May Lead to Possible Ecological Disaster

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Pertamina crude oil spill off of the Balikpapan Bay has spread across an area measured to be 20,000 hectares from previously 12,000, just three days earlier. 

That sudden increase tracked by satellite images on April 2, can possibly be caused by waves and currents, added by the fear that the oil leak is still occurring under water.

On Saturday, March 31, a 20-inch diameter and 12-millimeter thick oil pipe transferring crude oil from Lawe-Lawe Terminal at the North Penajam Paser to Pertamina’s Balikpapan refinery sustained damages at the depth of 20-25 meters underwater.

Oceanography expert from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) Alan F. Koropitan said that a large-scale oil spill can ruin the surrounding ecosystem if the situation stays for a long period of time.

Read: Pertamina Denies Negligence over Oil Spill in Balikpapan


“It may kill the ecosystem in the [affected] waters,” said Alan on April 5. He further said that oil spills that have spread to the mangrove areas can still be cleaned, but would leave permanent damages to seagrass and coral reefs. 

Alan hopes that the government together with Pertamina can quickly recover the oil spill before it causes more irreparable damages to the local ecosystems.

The same sentiment was expressed by Director of East Kalimantan’s Forum for the Environment Fathur Roziqin Fen who argues that the long-term effect of the oil spill can cause a crisis at Balikpapan Bay, which can lead to ecological and economic loss of up to the billions. 

“This can severely reduce the income of local fishermen,” said Roziqin.

Read: Pertamina Adds 15 Boats for Balikpapan Bay Oil Recovery Effort

East Kalimantan’s Mining Advocacy Network Pradarma Rupang said that other than the unfortunate five deaths to local fishermen, there are 18 other findings regarding the damages caused by the oil spill.

Pradarma reminded that this is not the first accident since an oil spill also took place back in 2004 and 2017 and that he deeply urges the government to audit the safety levels of Pertamina’s oil pipes.

Meanwhile, Pertamina’s Communication Manager in Kalimantan Yudi Nugraha was not willing to comment on the oil spill incident but assured that Pertamina has already coordinated its efforts with East Kalimantan’s police.


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