The oil and gas well fire incident in Pasir Putih Village, Peureulak District, East Aceh is a severe incident that resulted in the death of 21 people and 40 others. This incident stems from an explosion (25/4) in the morning during the drilling of an old oil well, which triggered a large fire. The drilling of the oil well is suspected of being an illegal activity located in the concession area of ​​PT Aceh Timur Kawai Energi, a Regional Owned Enterprise (BUMD) that operates the Rantau Peureulak oil and gas block in collaboration with Pertamina EP.

Asri Nuraeni, campaigner at Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Indonesia, responded, “emergency response efforts for victims and affected communities are still a priority. However, it is necessary to immediately conduct further investigations to find the leading cause and determine who should be responsible for this incident. ”

Asri added, “regarding illegal mining activities both in oil and gas and mining, the key is strict supervision and law enforcement, both from the central government, regional governments, and other law enforcement officials.” As Pertamina EP stated, the problem of illegal drilling in old wells does not only occur in Aceh but also occurs in other parts of Indonesia, such as in South Sumatra, Jambi, Central Java, and East Java.

The coordinator of the Aceh Anti-Corruption Movement (Gerak), Askhalani, said that this incident in East Aceh was not the first time. Drilling for illegal oil wells has been rampant since 2006 and is spread over three districts, namely East Aceh, Aceh Tamiang, and Bireun. Askhalani suspects that the rampant illegal activity is due to efforts to ignore it by the authorities.

“Blaming only workers in illegal oil drilling is not right. There are law enforcement officials and officials who ignore it. There are entrepreneurs, brokers, or collectors who enjoy the results of drilling these old wells. Law enforcement should not be selective,” said Askhalani.

“Moreover, the local community has considered drilling activities as a source of livelihood. We see no effort, either from the Regional Government or the Central Government, to find other alternative livelihoods for the community to prevent the illegal drilling of oil wells. Supposedly, the Aceh Oil and Gas Management Agency (BPMA) has carried out supervision and guidance of the people’s oil drilling activities, regardless of whether they are legal or illegal, considering that these activities are upstream oil and gas activities, “added Askhalani.

Regarding the discourse on legalizing oil drilling by the public, Askhalani reminded him to pay attention to many aspects. “Legalizing does not mean just giving permission, but also means controlling every impact. The question is, are the Aceh government and the central government ready to guide and monitor it? Including providing knowledge and increasing the capacity of the community. Don’t let it open the way to the legalization of people’s oil drilling to add to the problem. ”

Yesi Maryam, Outreach Officer of the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), explained, even though there is a Ministerial Regulation (Permen) of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) Number 1 of 2008 concerning Guidelines for Exploiting Petroleum Mining in Old Wells as a legal umbrella for managing wells old in Indonesia, but the regulation is still not comprehensive enough. “For example, about how to define old wells management methods, local wisdom, safeguard, scope, guidance, and supervision. This regulation is still more focused on managing and exploiting oil in old wells but does not detail environmental and social safety aspects. ”

Yesi added that Aceh has a Special Autonomy Law (UU Otsus), one of which is related to the authority to manage oil and gas in Aceh. For example, in the context of drilling for old wells, how is the coordination between the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources, Special task Force for Upstream Oil and Gas (SKK Migas), and Aceh Oil and Gas Management Agency (BPMA), and who is responsible for what. “Including talking about the management of old wells through the Village Unit Cooperative (KUD) or Regional Owned Enterprise (BUMD), how to supervise and develop them,” said Yesi.

Contact Person:
Asri Nuraeni-PWYP Indonesia: / +6281354723226
Askhalani-Gerak Aceh: / +62 813-6045-4183
Yesi Maryam-IESR: / +62 812-1247-0477