Indonesian police investigating in oil leak

State-owned oil company shoulders responsibility for spill and subsequent deadly fire on Saturday
JAKARTA, Indonesia: Indonesia’s state-owned oil company Pertamina on Thursday admitted that a leak in one of their undersea pipelines was the cause of a deadly fuel spill and a fire in the Balikpapan Bay.
The admission comes after an initial denial by the company regarding involvement in the incident that occurred on Saturday.
Authorities confirmed that five people were killed due to the crude oil leak from a pipe laid on the seabed, which caused a fire over the weekend in a fishing boat and at the stern of a ship carrying coal.
Pertamina Director Elia Massa Manik on Thursday said they were still waiting for officials to thoroughly investigate the case.
“Our undersea pipe moved from its original position by around 20 inches, and now that is under investigation,” Elia said at the presidential palace in Jakarta.
“First things first; our team worked together with local authorities to contain the situation,” he said.
“The refinery is back up and running and the situation at the port is back to normal as well, as we have cleaned up the waters.”
The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has ordered the state-owned company to immediately assess the environmental damage the spill has caused across the bay.
“We have asked Pertamina to follow procedure, prioritize clean up efforts to ensure that the negative effects are minimal,” said Arcandra Tahar, the deputy minister of Energy and Mineral Resources.
Tahar also estimated that the accident had caused a daily loss of up to 200,000 barrels.
Djoko Siswanto, the oil and gas director of the Ministry, blamed a Panama-flagged Chinese vessel as the culprit behind the incident.
“We suspect that a coal tanker threw their anchor and that hit Pertamina’s undersea pipes,” Siswanto said.
Police probing the accident said they would treat the incident as a criminal case and punish those found guilty for the spill and the subsequent fire, as well as for causing extensive damage to local residents and marine life.
Local government has declared a state of emergency to allow for the release of funds to aid authorities in their efforts to contain the spill and for any subsequent clean-up operations.
Previously, locals reported that the offshore waters reeked like a gas station shortly after the spill.
The city has handed out masks to residents suffering from breathing problems, nausea and vomiting.–AA

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