Australia wants immediate settlement of Montara oil spill case

Kupang, East Nusa Tenggaram (ANTARA News) - The Australian government hopes to settle the case of Montara oil spill this year that it would not become a stumbling block in the bilateral relations between the neighboring countries, the Advocacy Team for the Victims of the Montara oil spill has said.

The Montara oil spill was an oil and gas leak and subsequent slick that took place in the Montara oil field in the Timor Sea, off the northern coast of Western Australia. The slick was released following a blowout from the Montara wellhead platform on 21 August 2009, and continued leaking until 3 November 2009 (in total 74 days). The West Atlas rig is owned by the Norwegian-Bermudan Seadrill, and operated by PTTEP Australasia (PTTEPAA), a subsidiary of PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) which is in turn a subsidiary of PTT, the Thai state-owned oil and gas company.

Chairman of the Advocacy Team Ferdi Tanoni told reporter here on Tuesday he had met with a senior official of the Australian foreign ministry in Canberra to discuss settlement of the Montara case.

Indonesia has demanded compensation for the damage with heavy pollution caused by the oil spill in the Timor sea, East Nusa Tenggara.

At the meeting in late last year, the Australian officials said that country also wanted to settle the case immediately, and that Australia did not want the case to harm relations between the two countries, Tanoni said.

He said his proposal which had been submitted to the Australian government for the time line for out of court settlement of the case needs official approval from Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.

The proposal concerns compensation for social economic damage and damage to the environment in 13 regencies in East Nusa Tenggara, he said.

He said he had asked for time to meet Luhut to discuss and seek a solution to the long unsettled case.

"Progress made toward the settlement of the case was thanks to firm attitude shown by Mr Luhut over the Montara case in negotiations with Australia," he said.

He then urged Minister of the Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya to withdraw lawsuit by filed the Indonesian government with the Central Jakarta district court against PTTEP, saying it was wrongly addressed.

"I will also discuss with Nr Luhut if necessary to ask President Jokowi (Joko Widodo) to send a letter to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turbull to tell Australia that the Montara case is a bilateral issue between Indonesia and Australia and that the governments of the two countries should seriously seek immediate settlement," he said.

Source: ANTARA News

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