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Asean Affairs  24 November 2010

Asia-Pacific has its own oil spill

By  David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs     24 November 2010

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Although the Gulf oil spill captured headlines for quite some time, the Asia-Pacific has its own oil spill issue and this one involves two governments to boot.

In August 2009, an oil rig in the Timor Sea operated by PTTEP Australasia, a unit of Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production division, had a well platform blowout and spilled oil for 79 days. a fifth attempt to plug West Atlas rig and Montara wellhead platform north of Australia was successful in November 2009. The parent company, PTT, is ranked #116 on the Fortune 500.

By that time the slick had spread an estimated 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles). The company paid US$390m for the cleanup but the Australian Resources Minister told parliament the Thai firm should have its operating license reviewed. The minister said he thought relevant laws needed to be strengthened to make absolutely clear that companies would be held responsible for any future leaks.

The spill could result in PTTEP losing its licence to operate in Australia. Although international media reported that PTT had “no comment,” in Thailand PTT did. PTT Exploration and Production Plc (PTTEP) president and CEO Anan Sirisangtaksin said Wednesday that PTTEP had been tweaking its operation for almost 12 months and had presented periodic progress reports to the Australian government.

"We are confident that our improvements will give the Australian government confidence that our petroleum exploration and production practices will meet international standards," he said. PTT stocks decreased on the Stock Exchange of Thailand by 3.73 percent and PTTEP decreased 5 percent.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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