Major Oil Spill In Indonesia Balikpapan Bay

Major Oil Spill In Indonesia Balikpapan Bay

SpillsA pipeline that transport crude oil from the Law-Lawe Terminal in North Penajam Paser regency to an oil refinery in Balikpapan, burst on March 31st. The spill is polluting the Balikpapan Bay in East Kalimantan located in Indonesia. It is the worst environmental disaster in the past 10 years.

The oil spill led to a fire near the Panama-flagged coal cargo vessel MV Ever Judger 2.

Pertamina owned the pipeline, the 20 years old line is located 22 to 26 meters under the sea. The pipeline is made of steel with a diameter of 20 inches. The authorities claimed the pipe had moved 120 meters from its original location.

The initial spill covered 400-meter area of the bay, it has expanded to a radius over 2 kilometers in the waters around Semayang Port to Margasari. Satellite images from the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space on April 2nd showed the spill has extended to 12,987 hectares of Balikpapan Bay due to waves and currents.

The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry claimed the area affected by the spill had widened to 20,000 ha based on satellite images. However, The Environment and Forestry Ministry is disputing the numbers lowering the spill to be between 12,987 ha to 13,559 ha.

Both incident have affected the coastal area, marine animals and plants. The bay is known as the home of the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins. About 34 ha of mangrove trees in Kariagau village including 6,000 mangrove trees and 2,000 mangrove seeds in Atas Air Margasari Village.

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of this disaster. The initial findings are pointing to the illegal passed through and dropped anchor in the bay from the Coal vessel, MV Ever Judger 2. The Anchor dragged away the pipeline causing to burst. The Government and Pertamina officials have stated the oil company has been cleared of any wrong doing in the spill.

The cleanup of the oil has been underway, the only oil that could be recovered was the oil on the surface of the sea. The heavy oil that was already at the bottom of the sea could not be cleaned.
We are going to see how the heavy oil is going to alter the fragile ecosystems in the bay.

The fishery and nearby villages have been greatly affected, recovery will take years.

It is unfortunate to see incident of that magnitude caused by a vessel that would not respect the procedure to navigate safely in the bay.