Kupang, West Timor. A prominent US expert in oil spill recovery said in Kupang on Saturday that Indonesia needs to craft a program to deal with the lingering and largely over-looked effects of the 2009 Montara oil spill in the Timor Sea.
Dr. Robert Spies, who was the Chief Scientist for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, and who served as an adviser to US government after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, said the Timor Sea can still be restored, but only with “serious attempts” made by the Indonesian and Australian governments in coordination with the company who operated the Montara platform.
Serious attempts would include substantial money, much of which should come from Thai state-owned oil and gas company PTT Exploration and Production, Montara’s primary operator.
Spies said he’s recently studied the impact of the Montara spill in the Timor sea, especially in Indonesian waters. He said the pollution caused by the Montara leak was just as severe as the Gulf of Mexico spill.
“Restoration programs could be made after hearing expert opinions involved in examining the effects of the pollution on the environment,” Spies said at a discussion on pollution and impact on the environment.
The Montara oil spill leaked an estimated 2,000 barrels a day from Aug. 21 to Nov. 3 2009 (or 74 days), according to the Australian Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism. The Montara slick grew to almost 90,000 square kilometers and entered Indonesian waters, according to environmental group WWF.
A team led by the Environment Ministry said the oil slick covered 16,420 square meters of Indonesian maritime territory. The West Timor Care Foundation, which supports poor fishermen in eastern Indonesia, estimated the spill affected the livelihoods of about 18,000 fishermen. Businesses such as seaweed and pearl farms were also reportedly hit.
Spies said damage in the Gulf of Mexico was minimized thanks to quick action taken by American authorities in 2010; Spies said the US government was quick to launch environmental restoration programs, and asked British Petroleum to finance much of the environmental assessment.
BP was also asked to provide compensation for people directly impacted by the spill — namely fishermen.
Similar methods could be used for the Timor Sea pollution through coordination through the multitude of companies involved, Spies was quoted as saying by Antara.
The Motara platform was owned by Norwegian-Bermudan Seadrill, and operated by PTTEP Australasia (PTTEPAA), a subsidiary of PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) — that company was in turn a subsidiary of PTT.
Houston-based Halliburton was involved in cementing the well, and were also involved in cementing the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon well.
Jakarta Globe and Antara