Wind Could Spread Oil Leak from Pertamina’s Undersea Well in Indonesia

By Yoga Rusmana and | July 29, 2019

Wind is threatening to spread a growing 52-mile (84-kilometer) oil sheen in Indonesia from an undersea well that began leaking about two weeks ago into the Java Sea.

State crude producer PT Pertamina plans to install more booms in the south and east of the offshore oil platform to prevent the spread of the oil, spokesman Fajriyah Usman said in a text message on Monday. The flow of crude from the damaged well offshore Karawang, West Java, has declined to below 3,000 barrels per day, she said.

The spill has contaminated beaches in at least 10 villages mostly to the west of the offshore platform, the energy ministry said Monday. Company officials have said it may take about eight weeks before the leaking well can be fully shut.

The leak so far appears to be much smaller than BP Plc’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The blowout and explosion off the coast of Louisiana killed 11 workers and sent millions of gallons and oil into the gulf and surrounding wetlands. BP officials publicly stated that 5,000 barrels of oil a day was flowing into the gulf. Experts concluded later that the figure was more than 60,000 barrels a day, the U.S. government said.

Pertamina said Sunday it has intensified clean up efforts by installing five high-speed water skimmers to suck the fuel from the sea surface and put up a static oil boom stretching 2,000 meters around the YY platform to contain the spill.

Pertamina has mobilized and alerted 32 vessels for oil-spill combat and firefighting among other measures, according to Sunday’s statement. A total of 800 people and more than 100 military personnel were also involved in cleaning up oil spills on the beach. The company said Saturday it has set up four health posts at coastal villages in Java.

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