The tragedy of oil spill in Balikpapan Bay occurred in (31/3) last Saturday was a serious issue that needs to be responded promptly, properly, and well-coordinated. The alleged reason for this occurrence is due to the combusted speedboat of Panamanian-flag MV Ever Judger loaded with coals. Although the entire crew – whereas all were Chinese citizen – were able to be saved, it affected 5 victims who are fishermen, and also the people nearby the water and the burned ship. Ever since the incident, hundreds of fishermen who fishing nearby the bay might also discontinue their activities.

According to the press conference conducted by General Manager of PT Pertamina Refinery Unit V, along with Director of Special Criminal Investigation (Reskrimsus) and Head of Public Relation of East Kalimantan Police on Wednesday, April 4 2018, stated that the oil spill is a crude oil sourced from Pertamina’s underwater pipeline from Lawe-Lawe to/from refinery in Balikpapan, which is dragged and cracked therefore caused an oil spill to the ocean waters. Pertamina also revised their prior statement that the spills were caused by a fuel ship (Marine Fuel Oil – MFO). It is suspected that the underwater pipe is 20 years old.

Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Indonesia stated, the authority should conduct further investigation into the cause of the oil spill since this accident is classified as a fatal accident in oil and gas sector. Whether there is any other negligence occurred by the company related to the implementation of the safety and security standards of petroleum transport through the pipeline. What is the cause of the cracked pipeline that caused the oil spill. The maintenance and checking procedures regularly should have been the standard of operational procedure, and by all means to repair the discovered damage as the way of risk prevention that should be done.

In addition, further investigation is also required to find out the cause a coal vessel that affected fatalities. Whether the vessel has also been loaded with standard equipment that might cause an oil spills dropping the water beforehand, including the standard procedures to overcome fire, thus the fire shall not wide-spread nor caused victims of fishermen as well as people who are sailing around the vessel. The operational and sailing standard of this coal tugboat should be done by a further investigation.

The coordinator of Publish What You Pay Indonesia, Maryati Abdullah, stated that, “In addition to support further investigation, we also encourage to conduct fast response that has been doing and also still ongoing process with the relevant agencies such as KSOP in collaboration with local government countermeasures agencies, including Pertamina and Task Team which was assigned to the site by Ministry of the Environment.

The result of the investigation is also needed to be published to the public, due to many people are affected by this incident. Also, this oil spills incident shall become a momentum to evaluate the activities in Balikpapan Bay, since it is the route of many oil and gas transportation activities.

Pursuant to the ‘polluter pays’ principle, the responsibility for the mitigation, recovery, financing, and compensation are the burden to the party whose activities have resulted in an oil spill in the sea, which in this case Pertamina and other parties of according to the result of the investigation. The absolute responsibility for such cost shall refer to Presidential Decree No 109/2006 concerning the Emergency Response of Oil Spill at Sea. This regulation was enacted as a way of the government commitment to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), thus will regulate promptly, properly, and coordinated in responses of the oil spill and the effect of the environment.

As a result of the oil spills in the sea is rapid vastly affected to the communities around the coast and shall impact a very significant damage to living creatures and ecosystems around the coast, either in a direct way (such as death, changes in body function and behavior, etc.), as well as in systemic way such as disturbance of ecosystems and reducing marine biodiversity. Socio-economically, the direct impact is also affected by the fewer catches for the fishermen, disruption of oil supply and distribution activities, as well as disruption of water activities, transportation and other activities around the oil spill. Therefore, Pertamina as the responsible party needs to make compensations for the affected people.