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NEWS UPDATES 22 July 2010

President reaffirms Indo plan to sue Thai firm

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President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reiterated Thursday a plan to demand that a Thai oil-rig operator be held responsible for an oil spill in Timor Sea that damaged the environment of nearby Indonesian territory, as reported by the Jakarta Post.

“We have to do our duty by demanding claims to the company responsible for the oil spill,” Yudhoyono said in his opening speech for a Cabinet plenary meeting at the Presidential office.

Earlier this month, after a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said the two countries would cooperate to ensure that PTTEP Australasia was held responsible for an oil spill that occurred in the Montara field off Australia’s north coast.

PTTEP Australasia is a subsidiary of PTT, a Thai oil and gas company.

The company’s oil platform exploded and spilled more than 500,000 liters of crude oil each day into Timor Sea in August 2009.

Thirty-eight percent of Indonesia’s sea territory in the Timor Sea was affected by the spill, local fishermen’s catches dropped and thousands of tons of shallow water fish and whales died.

The spill also destroyed seaweed farms cultivated by coastal communities in East Nusa Tenggara.

Marty said both countries would file demands that PTTEP Australasia be held accountable. Australia and Indonesia have already communicated with the government of Thailand on the issue, he added.

Indonesia and Australia signed a memorandum of understanding on oil pollution preparedness in 1996, which was used as the legal framework for communication during the spill.

Jakarta has decided to establish an advocacy team to communicate with PTTEP Australasia.

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