Ship’s Anchor Ripping Up Pipeline Likely Oil Spill Cause


A vessel that anchored off the coast of Indonesia was found to have caused an oil spill that claimed the life of five fishermen.

What happened?

The vessel loaded with coal had dropped anchor off the coast of the Indonesian port city of Balikpapan on Borneo island. The vessel which wasn’t named caught fire and was blamed for causing an oil spill. It was suspected that the vessel had dragged a pipeline for more than 100 metres and causing it to crack.

Emergency declared

A state of emergency was declared after the oil ignited and killed five fishermen. The oil spread about 13,000 hectares and polluted 60 km of coastal ecosystems, including mangrove wetlands and marine mammal habitats.

Oil and Gas director Djoko Siswanto said, “We suspect the pipe was dragged by the ship that caught fire. At the time it was bad weather, so they had to drop anchor on an area which was prohibited for vessel anchoring. We suspect the pipe was dragged by the ship that caught fire”.

Oil spill contained

By April 3, nearly 70 cubic metres of oil spilled was contained by a team from several oil companies operating in the area and government agencies.

The Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said, “Thick clumps of oil were still visible in some areas yesterday, but much less than the several days prior”.

The ministry is supervising the cleanup and overseeing compensation claims and it has asked Pertamina to contain the remaining oil spillage and help the affected members of the community.

Port operations reduced

Balikpapan is a bustling mining and energy hub, sitting on a shipping lane serving one of Indonesia’s biggest thermal coal mining regions. State oil company Pertamina conducted initial tests that showed the oil was the marine oil used in boats, but on Wednesday a 20 year old underwater pipeline cracked which was linked to its refinery source in Balikpapan.

The spill had reduced the operational capacity of the Balikpapan oil refinery, a Pertamina official said. A second, smaller, undamaged pipeline running next to the broken pipe was being used to deliver crude to the refinery, with additional oil supplied via tankers.

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Source: Straits Times