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Oil and Gas in Indonesia

On each topic, the articles are in chronological order.

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Indonesia background

In October 1999, a general election resulted in Abdurrahman Wahid becoming president of Indonesia, with promises to reform the country’s economy. Almost immediately, however, the new administration was confronted by a renewed challenge from a separatist movement in Aceh, an oil and gas rich province in north Sumatra which abuts the strategically important Strait of Malacca. A separatist movement also exists in Irian Jaya, a gas-rich province at the eastern end of the country.

One of the key areas in which energy and politics intersect in Indonesia is the distribution of oil and gas revenues between the central government in Jakarta and regional governments in areas which produce oil and gas.


Indonesia currently holds proven oil reserves of 5 billion barrels. This represents a 14% decline in proven reserves since 1994. Much of Indonesia’s proven oil reserve base is located onshore. Central Sumatra is the country’s largest oil producing province and the location of the large Duri and Minas oil fields. Other significant oil field development and production is located in accessible areas such as offshore northwestern Java, East Kalimantan, and the Natuna Sea. Indonesian crude oil varies widely in quality, with most streams having gravities in the 22o to 37o API range. Indonesia’s two main export crudes are Sumatra Light, or Minas, with a 35o API, and the heavier, 22o API Duri crude.

During the first nine months of 2000, Indonesian crude oil production averaged about 1.29 million barrels per day (bbl/d). Crude oil production had ranged between 1.3 and 1.4 million bbl/d between 1990 and 1999. The decrease in 2000 was due mainly to the natural decline of aging oil fields. Although Indonesia’s OPEC oil production quotas were raised repeatedly in 2000, Indonesia’s production did not show a corresponding increase. Besides crude, Indonesia also produces approximately 180,000 bbl/d of natural gas liquids and lease condensate, which are not part of its OPEC quota, bringing the country’s total oil production to around 1.47 million bbl/d. Indonesia is the only Southeast Asian member of OPEC, and its current OPEC crude oil production quota is 1.385 million bbl/d.

Indonesia’s recent oil production has remained relatively flat as introduction of crude streams from new, smaller fields has helped compensate for declines at many of the country’s mature oil fields. To meet its goal of increasing production, Indonesia has stepped up efforts to sign new oil exploration contracts. Seven new production sharing contracts (PSCs) were awarded in May 2000, up from only four in the 1999 bidding round. The majority of Indonesia’s producing oil fields are located in the central and western sections of the country. Therefore, the focus of new exploration has been on frontier regions, particularly in eastern Indonesia. Sizable, but as of yet unproven, reserves may lie in the numerous, geologically complex, pre-tertiary basins located in eastern Indonesia. These regions are much more remote and the terrain more difficult to explore than areas of western and central Indonesia.

Companies producing from existing fields are investing in programs to increase recovery rates and to prolong the life of the fields. Caltex, which has the largest operation of any multinational oil company in Indonesia, is undertaking a steam injection project at the Duri field on Sumatra.


Indonesia has eight refineries, with a combined capacity of 992,745 bbl/d. The largest refineries are the 348,000-bbl/d Cilacap in Central Java, the 241,000-bbl/d Balikpapan in Kalimantan, and the 125,000-bbl/d Balongan, in Java. A major expansion of the Cilacap refinery was completed in 1999.

One new project currently under consideration is a 300,000-bbl/d Saudi Arabian-Chinese-Indonesian joint venture refinery planned for Pare-Pare in South Sulawesi. This would be an export-oriented refinery, taking Saudi crude and refining it for sale primarily to the Chinese market. If financing is arranged, construction on the project could begin by the end of 2001.


Indonesia is important to world energy markets because of its OPEC membership and substantial, but diminishing, oil production. Indonesia also is the world’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter.

Indonesia has proven natural gas reserves of 72.3 trillion cubic feet (Tcf).Most of the country’s gas reserves are located near the Arun field in North Sumatra, around the Badak field in East Kalimantan, in smaller fields offshore Java, the Kangean Block offshore East Java, a number of blocks in Irian Jaya, and the Natuna D-Alpha field, the largest in Southeast Asia. Despite its significant gas reserves and its position as the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), Indonesia still relies on oil to supply about 50% of its energy needs. As Indonesia’s oil production has leveled off in recent years, the country has tried to shift towards using its natural gas resources for power generation. However, the domestic gas market is still considered immature and the country lacks a domestic network and pipeline infrastructure to provide widespread distribution.

A particularly significant Indonesian gas field, Natuna, is located in the South China Sea, 683 miles north of Jakarta and 140 miles northeast of Natuna Island. Discovered in 1970 by Italy’s Agip, the field contains an estimated 46 Tcf of recoverable reserves. Agip relinquished its concession, however, and the field has been developed only recently. In January 1999, SembGas of Singapore signed a contract to purchase 325 million cubic feet per day (Mmcfd) of natural gas from the West Natuna Gas Consortium, a joint venture consisting of Pertamina, Conoco, Premier Oil, and Gulf Indonesia Resources. A contract for the pipeline was awarded to McDermott International, and it is expected to be completed ahead of schedule in January 2001. In November 1999, Conoco reported a new gas discovery at West Natuna which raised reserves by about 1Tcf. Besides exports to Singapore, another ambitious project which has been under discussion would involve linking gas grids from Thailand to China via an offshore pipeline heading in both directions from a hub at the Natuna gas field. Such a scheme might eventually allow the export of southeast Asian gas to China. A less ambitious version of the project might involve only Indonesia and China.

Another major project in the planning stages is ARCO’s Tangguh LNG project in Irian Jaya, based on over 14 Tcf of natural gas reserves found onshore and offshore the Wiriagar and Berau blocks. The project would involve two trains with a combined capacity of 6 million tons per year. A contract for the initial engineering and design work had been awarded to Chiyoda and Mitsubishi of Japan. The project is considered risky due to an active separatist movement in Irian Jaya. Arco holds a 48% interest in the Berau block with partners Occidental Berau of Indonesia Inc. at 22.87%, Nippon Oil Exploration, 17.14% and KG Berau Petroleum, 12%. For the Wiriagar block, Arco holds an 80% interest and KG Wiriagar Petroleum Ltd. holds the remaining 20%.

Another LNG project recently completed is construction of an eighth LNG train at the Bontang LNG plant in East Kalimantan, which became operational in December 1999. The train added 3 million tons per year to the capacity at Bontang. Development of new LNG capacity in the coming decade is a critical issue for Indonesia, as the Aceh LNG facility is showing declining capacity as the fields which supply it become mature. Two LNG trains at Arun were closed in April 2000.

In another possible use for Indonesia’s gas resources, Shell is examining the possibility of building a gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant in Indonesia. The plant, if the project goes forward, would produce 70,000 bbl/d of diesel and other middle distillates using the Fischer-Tropsch GTL process.


Proven Oil Reserves (1/1/00) 5 billion barrels Oil Production (1st nine months 2000E): 1.47 million barrels per day (bbl/d), of which 1.29 million bbl/d is crude oil Oil Production Capacity (2000E): 1.5 million bbl/d OPEC Production Quota (since 10/31/00): 1.385 million bbl/d Oil Consumption (2000E): 989,000 bbl/d Net Oil Exports (2000E): 481,000 bbl/d Major Oil Customers: Japan, United States, South Korea, China, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand Crude Oil Refining Capacity (1/1/00E): 992,745 bbl/d Natural Gas Reserves (1/1/00E): 72.3 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) Natural Gas Production (1998E) 2.24 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) Natural Gas Consumption (1998E): 0.97 Tcf Net Gas Exports (1998E): 1.27 Tcf Major LNG Customers (2000): Japan, South Korea, Taiwan


Organizations: Perusahaan Pertambangan Minyak dan Gas Bumi Negara (Pertamina) - oil exploration, production, transportation, and marketing; Perum Gas Negara (PGN) -gas distributor and transmission company

Major Producing Oil Fields: Duri, Minas, Belida, Ardjuna, Arun, KG/KRA, Widuri, Nilam

Attaka Oil Refineries (operating capacity-bbl/d, December 1999): Cilacap, Central Java (380,000); Pertamina-Balikpapan, Kalimantan (240,920); Musi, South Sumatra (109,155); EXOR-1, Balongan, Java (125,000); Dumai, Central Sumatra (114,000); Sungai Pakning, Central Sumatra (47,500); Pangakalan Brandan, North Sumatra (4,750); Cepu, Central Java (3,420)

Product Pipelines: Trans-Java (serving the Surabaya market)

Oil Tanker Terminals:

Java: Cilegon, Cilacap, Surabaya, Ardjuna B (offshore) Sumatra: Pangkalan Brandan, Belawan, Dumai, Musi, Perlak, Palembang, Tanjung Uban (offshore)

Kalimantan: Balikpapan

Sulawesi: Ujung Pandang

Irian Jaya: Sorong, Jaya

Seram: Bula

Natuna Sea: Ikan Pari.

Major Gas Fields:

Sumatra: Arun, Alur Siwah, Kuala Langsa, Musi, South Lho Sukon, Wampu

East Kalimantan: Attaka, Badak, Bekapai, Handil, Mutiara, Nilam, Semberah, Tunu

Natuna Sea: Natuna Java: Pagerungan, Terang/Sirasun Irian Jaya: Tangguh

Major Gas Pipelines: Sumatra: Pangkalan Brandan-Dumai

LNG Plants: Arun, Bontang


The Sudoarjo Disaster: Clear as MudVan Zorge Report, April 2007

The Situation of Oil and Gas and the Advocacy Movement in Indonesia

Summary of presentation by JATAM at Oilwatch General Meeting, Colombia, September 2003. Indonesia’s Oil and Gas Industry and  the Resistance to Transnational Companies includes slides which go with this presentation.

Bahasa Indonesia version and slide show


After 32 years under the authoritarian regime of Soeharto followed by a number of regime changes including B.J Habibie, Abdurrahman Wahid and now Megawati, Indonesia is still experiencing an economic crisis. However, natural resource exploitation zeal has not changed with international organizations funding much of this destruction. The government has allowed natural resource exploitation at levels considered not sustainable in terms of the environment. As a result, extraordinary amounts of Indonesia’s natural wealth have been destroyed. Numerous environmental and social impacts have resulted including the destruction of local communities’ livelihoods. Security forces are used routinely to face any community reaction, therefore in regions that are rich in natural resources, human rights violations are a normal incident.

Energy resources like oil and gas are no exception and have been exploited in vast amounts. The government is certain that the exploitation of Indonesia’s energy resources will lift the country out of its economic crisis.

In 2002, the total oil production in Indonesia amounted to 1.25 million barrels per day . From the oil and gas project management sector, the government gains revenue of US$ 3 million. It is forecasted for the year 2005 that oil production in Indonesia will decrease to less than 1 million barrels per day.

Since 1977, Indonesia exported 473 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) with a cumulative value of approximately US$ 89.5 billion. Pertamina’s business is to attract hundreds of foreign oil companies/investors to Indonesia and get these investors to sign production-sharing contracts (PSC) with Pertamina.

In 2003, Indonesia’s oil prosperity ended. Now, Indonesia is recorded as an oil importer after 32 years of oil exploitation by foreign investors. Oil resources left in Indonesia include several areas in Kalimantan, Java and Sumatra. Some of these areas that have been exploited are now quiet and melancholic places known as ghost towns.

Although Indonesia will become an oil-importing nation, Indonesia still has huge predicted LNG reserves. According to current available data, Indonesia gas reserves amount to 176,6 TCF ( ± 30,3 BBOE ) or three times the oil reserves (as of 1 January 2002 ).

Indonesian gas production in 2002 was 8,33 BSCFD where 57.3% of this figure included 54.% being exported LNG, 0.1% LPG, and 2.7% gas. The remaining 42.7% was used for domestic needs. Pertamina produces 0.71 BSCFD and 7.62 BSCFD through PSCs.

Oil and Gas Law

The World Bank, IMF and ADB has intervened on public policy including the Oil and Gas Act, the Electricity Act, as well as draft of laws on transportation and irrigation . One example of a policy born out of foreign investor pressure is the Oil and Gas Act No. 22/2001. This Oil and Gas Act saw the creation of two institutions within the oil and gas realm, the Oil and Gas Implementing Body (BP Migas) and the Oil and Gas Downstream Activity Regulating Body (BPH Migas).

With the existence of these two bodies, there has been overlap of responsibilities and confusion in its implementation. Dr Kurtubi in his paper “Energy Pricing that is Sustainable for the Community” states: Other than impacting the fuel pricing policy that has been forced to follow market mechanisms (actually rejected by the public and is not working), Act No.22/2001 has also destroyed the national oil and LNG industry system that disadvantages the people.

Act No 22/2001, LNG development and marketing is no longer done by Pertamina and has been poorly managed by BP Migas. This new system endangers the national LNG industry in Indonesia and leaves it vulnerable to exploitation by foreign investors who are partners in the PSCs. According to data from the year 2002, 167 oil and gas companies were operating in Indonesia (including PSCs).

Oil and Gas Act No. 22/2001 is less than two years old but there are already many problems associated with this law. This shows that the Government is not sensitive to the problems with the policy that has long-term implications. There have also been numerous incidents between local communities and companies resulting in human rights violations, marginalized groups including women, and environmental destruction. Other than impacting directly the local communities, oil and gas activities and policies have also resulted in Indonesia’s oil and gas reserves being depleted for today’s needs and only benefits a small group of individuals.

Community Resistance

Communities in Riau, East Kalimantan, Aceh, Central Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, Papua and Java are in the midst of struggle and resistance to these powerful transnational companies. Their demands include compensation for destroyed lands and livelihoods, equal employment opportunities and a fair share in the profits but the companies fail these communities and they are left demanding that the investors leave their areas.

The communities and their struggles are rarely given any attention by the local and central government. The oil and gas sector is still a major concern for the Megawati administration in Jakarta because their role is regarded as very important economically for the country and is a major part of the economy recovery strategy that is oriented towards export, including gas exports. This commodity is being exploited as a main revenue source for Indonesia’s future.

The Oil and Gas Act No. 22/2001 also facilitates the privatization process of the state oil company, Pertamina. The Oil and Gas Act also opens the doors to foreign investors to compete in Indonesian domestic markets.

Therefore, economic demands causes the exploitation of natural reserves to become a priority that is above meeting the needs and recognizing the rights of local communities. The local governments have yet to be successful to intervene on policies made by the central government (several reports show that they are more concerned with revenue than mitigating industrial impacts on the community). Under the regional autonomy system, decision-making on oil and gas is still under central government control.

In international circles, there is one strong government force supporting these transnational oil and gas companies even though the oil and gas industry is recognized as one of the largest contributors to global warming. With George W. Bush in power at the White House, the government is apparently pro-oil and gas industry. Therefore, it is expected that American support will increase for American oil interests in Indonesia including Exxon-Mobil, Chevron/Texaco, Conoco and Amoco/Amro.

Oil and gas advocacy in Indonesia

Advocacy on behalf of the communities and environments affected by the oil and gas industry is essential in Indonesia, which has been ravaged by this industry. Only a small group of NGOs are working on oil and gas issues. JATAM, the Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network, is one organization working on these issues. Weaknesses include poor knowledge bases on regions and oil and gas issues. Therefore, it is very difficult to develop joint advocacy strategies related to oil and gas issues. However, JATAM continues advocacy work at the community level in such areas as Aceh, Riau, South Sumatera, Java, Sulawesi and Papua. This is part of JATAM’s mandate developed during JATAM’s re-positioning workshop held in Tomohon, North Sulawesi in 1999.

Global changes occurring at this period are seen as future negative threats for Indonesia. Domination on natural resources by transnational companies that collaborate with Northern countries will force the further degradation of Southern countries for the interests of Northern countries. Pricing and distribution routes are controlled by transnational companies. This scenario needs to be viewed as a part of continued domination of Northern countries over Southern countries.

JATAM is aware that this work in large will not be accomplished alone, and thus broadening networks and education of the issues is a significant tool in oil and gas advocacy movement. On May 31, 2002, during an Oilwatch Asia Regional meeting in Bali, JATAM had the opportunity to attend. As follow-up from this meeting, JATAM and their constituents focused on several oil and gas issues in Indonesia including keeping active the consolidation of networks and facilitation of campaigns at the national and international level on oil and gas issues. Several campaigns involve multinational oil and gas companies like ExxonMobil Oil, Unocal, BP Indonesia, Vico, TotalFinaElf, and Conoco-Phillips while other campaigns involve national companies like Pertamina, Exspan and Medco.


From Oilwatch Resistance Bulletin #38, May 2003

Central Sulawesi is being billed as Indonesia's next big gas producer by Indonesian companies with exploration projects in the province.

Indonesia's state-owned oil and gas company, Pertamina, and Exspan Tomori Sulawesi -a subsidiary of Medco- say the province has huge potential for natural gas exploitation.

General affairs manager of the company's joint co-operation body, Tri Siswindono, said Central Sulawesi could easily become Indonesia's biggest natural gas producer. With 20-28 trillion cubic feet (tcf), the Donggi and Senoro fields hold up to twice as much gas as Aceh's Arun field, operated by ExxonMobil, which has around 14 tcf left. The combined Sulawesi fields had almost three times as much as Papua's Tangguh project, he said.

The joint operators are planning to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant to process the gas, to start production in 2007 at the latest, according to Pertamina director Baihaki Hakim. He says the markets are there - Marathon wants to buy 6 million tonnes of LNG per year and the Philippines and Japan have also declared an interest in buying Donggi LNG.

According to Pertamina, the project will mean building a new town at Donggi with potential for thousands of jobs.   The area is close to Morowali nature reserve, home of the Tau'taa/Wana indigenous people.

The project is being promoted by Pertamina as a matter of national pride because it will be the first in which the company will carry through a "mega-project" independently, rather than as partners with foreign operating companies.

The environmental group WALHI Central Sulawesi has appealed to environment minister Nabiel Makarim not to be in hurry to approve Exspan and Pertamina's oil and gas projects in the region, as the developments are likely to cause damage to the environment, harm livelihoods and prospects for tourism. In the Tiaka area, for example, which lies 11 nautical miles off the coast in Tolo Bay, oil exploration activities have already damaged coral reefs, according to the group.

A report by Indonesia's Tempo Magazine, described how oil and gas exploration, along with forest destruction, has contributed to the decline of the endangered maleo bird population on Banggai Island.  A gas leak in 2001 killed maleos and others birds, whilst also causing islanders to suffer nausea and headaches. Tiaka Island, which was turned into a helipad and tanker terminal, was also home to 400 families of indigenous sea-faring Bajo people. 'A protest by the Bajos was answered by a terse "Stay or get out of the area".' Exspan also wants to convert Bangkiriang, a forest wildlife reserve, into an oil exploration and exploitation area, according to Tempo.

WALHI is also opposing the project's plans to build a 100 ha artificial island in Tolo Bay, by dredging 3 million tonnes of sand and gravel, to create space for storing oil drilling equipment.  WALHI says the plan puts coral reef ecosystems covering almost 44 hectares under threat. A survey conducted by WALHI volunteers found that around 80% of the corals on the Tiaka Reef were in a good condition, and were inhabited by hundreds of species of fish and molluscs, including the Napoleon Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) and giant clams (Tridacna).

The planned conversion of the reef into a storage island would also limit the access of local people to marine resources. WALHI says the environmental impact analysis (AMDAL) for the oil and gas development was carried out without the participation of local people who will suffer the direct impacts. The NGO is also warning that the dredging of riverbeds and land sites for excavating sand and gravel will bring the threat of floods and landslides to local villagers and their farmland. WALHI says it is not opposed to the development, but insists that developers abide by environmental laws and protect the rights of  local indigenous communities.

Central Sulawesi's provincial governor Prof Aminuddin Ponulele previously said he would issue a licence for Exspan and Pertamina to create the artificial island based on the recommendation of the provincial AMDAL commission. This stated that the area consisted only of sandbars and that the development would not threaten the surrounding marine life. The commission also said that its survey had found that the corals in the oil drilling area were mostly already dead. Exspan and Pertamina also reported that more than 80% of the corals were damaged. 

The companies plan to start extracting oil from Tiaka in June 2003, with a production capacity of 6,500 barrels per day (bpd). US company United Texas Petroleum first discovered oil in Tiaka in the 1980s, but decided that the field's prospects were not good enough for further development. Pertamina and Exspan then took over exploration in the field. 

According to Tempo, the Banggai district head gave his firm support for development: " Nothing should stand in the way of Exspan's plan to develop the natural  resources of Banggai", he said. "This is a matter of prestige for Banggai."

References: Pertamina website editorial, January 2003 - see; Media 13/Sep/02; Walhi kecam Keras Tindakan PT Exspan Menimbun Laut, posted on Walhinews 02/Sep/02; Asia Pulse/Antara 29/Aug/03; Tempo Magazine 8-14 Oct/02).

Sources:  Down to Earth.  International Campaign for Ecological Justice in Indonesia Newsletter No. 56, February 2003.


Source: Down to Earth (International Campaign for Ecological Justice in Indonesia) Newsletter No. 49, May 2001

Protests over pollution and compensation at Unocal’s Tanjungsantan oil and gas terminal ended in violence last October, when police moved in to break up a blockade (see DTE 47:13). Now the US-based company is embroiled in another dispute, this time further south, in Semboja sub-district, Kutai. Unocal has denied that it is polluting seas and fish-ponds along the Muara Jaya coast, citing research it has carried out with Mulawarman University. Local people have complained of declining fish stocks in the seas and premature deaths of fish in their ponds since exploration started in April 2000. Local people point out that the drilling wells are only 500m from the coastline.

Meanwhile, farmers in Bukit Raya village, also in Semboja, are demanding compensation from another US-based company, Vico, for land reportedly used to build a pipeline and polluted by waste. In 1999, villagers affected by the operations of Vico, Unocal and Total Indonesie issued a joint statement demanding restoration of their rights over the lands, the withdrawal of security forces from negotiations, compensation and rehabilitation (see DTE 43:16). (Petromindo 19 & 24/Jan/01)


Exploration by British company, Premier Oil is dividing the community of Ujungpangkah, Gresik district in East Java. According to a report in the local Surabaya Post, three employees from the company were taken hostage by local people, and only released when the company agreed to suspend operations until the beginning of February.

An investigation by two factions of the Gresik district assembly found that Premier’s exploration site - the estuary of the Solo River - could endanger the environment and cause loss to fisherfolk and farmers as it was too close to the shore. Assembly member Masluh Fanani said villagers also rejected the oil and gas firm’s operations because they feared the negative impact on their religious and social life. There was concern that the operation would bring in prostitutes and villagers were displeased by the fact that Premier’s workers had held what was reported as a ‘drinking party’ during the fasting month.

Premier Oil, which counts Singapore’s Keppel and the US-based Amerada Hess among its investors, has been severely criticised for its investments in Burma. (Petromindo 11, 19 & 25/Jan/01, Financial Times 21/Dec/00 & others.)


It is likely that conflicts and environmental damage will become more frequent as some of the huge investment projects, currently under development, start production.

One giant project that has already started is the piping of gas from fields around the remote Natuna islands in the South China Sea to Singapore’s Jurong island. The project, inaugurated in January by President Wahid, is Indonesia’s first gas export project through pipelines - this one is a massive 640 km long and cuts across one of the world’s busiest sealanes. The investment consortium includes state oil company Pertamina, Conoco (US) Premier Oil (UK) and Gulf Resources (Canada). Exporting 350 million cubic feet per day, the companies are expected to make around US$22 billion of revenue from sales over the next 22 years.

Major projects currently under development include: 


oil and gas in the Makassar Straits, off East Kalimantan, controlled by Unocal. Development of the West Seno oil field, discovered in 1998, will bring deep-water drilling to Indonesia for the first time. The field, which is expected to produce 60,000 bpd and will start up at the end of next year, is located in water depths of 1,000 metres. The company has reached agreement with US giant Exxon-Mobil (see box on Aceh) to buy its 40% and 50% shareholdings in two Makassar blocks, but this has to be approved by Jakarta and state oil company Pertamina is showing interest in getting involved in the project.


the Belanak oil field in West Natuna, Riau province, which will produce 100,000 bpd and start up by the year 2003. This project, being developed by a subsidiary of Conoco (USA), will have the world’s largest floating storage facility - used to offload liquefied petroleum gas onto tankers. The project will also supply gas to Malaysia through a 97-km underwater pipeline.


Conoco is also carrying out oil exploration in a 150,000 ha area of the Lorentz national park, West Papua, according to the provincial natural resources conservation agency.

bulletAnother gas pipeline project from gas fields in Central South Sumatra to Singapore. Consortium members include Gulf Resources, Santa Fe Energy Resources (US) and Pertamina. Indonesia will earn around $400 million a year, producing 350 million cubic feet of gas per day over a 20 year period, starting 2003.(Petromindo 23, 25, 26 & 29/Jan/01, Jakarta Post 30/Nov/00, 21/Dec/00, 26/Jan/01; Business Times, 19/Jan/01; Indonesian Observer 22/Sep/00; MinergyNews.Com 22/Sep/00)


There will be more exploitation in future too: Indonesia is auctioning 21 exploration blocks this month, and, unlike the mining sector, there is strong interest from foreign investors. Gulf Resources (Canada) has already said it will be participating in the tender, and other companies are expected to be drawn especially to the 6 blocks in the Makassar Straits. Other blocks include 2 in the Natuna Sea, 6 in the Arafura Sea (West Papua), three in Kalimantan, two in South Sulawesi and two in the Seram Sea.(Dow Jones Newswires 26/Jan/01; Petromindo 20/Jan/01)


Several foreign investors are preparing to go ahead with delayed oil refinery projects, according to Indonesia’s Investment Co-ordinating Board (BKPM).

Due to the economic crisis, none of the 20 oil refinery projects approved since 1992 were started. These included 18 foreign investment projects whose Indonesian partners were mostly drawn from companies owned by Suharto family and cronies.

One UK-based investor, Mayhill International Trading & Services, said in January that it would go ahead with a $1.4 billion refinery project in Sumbawa (West Nusa Tenggara) to start operations by September 2005. The refinery would use oil from Iran and have an output of 150,00 bpd. Reports in October last year said Mayhill was involved in two refinery projects, in Aceh and Lombok (see DTE 47:16)

Two (unnamed) US investors plan to build a refinery in Tanjungjabung, Jambi province (Sumatra) with a processing capacity of at least 30,000 bpd.

In December, BKPM approved two oil refinery projects in Pare-Pare (Sulawesi) and Batam (Riau) (see also DTE 47:16). (Jakarta Post 24/Nov/00; Petromindo 22/Jan/00)


Indonesia’s environmental impact management agency, Bapedal, has threatened legal action against oil and gas companies that fail to submit reports on their waste and waste management systems. Bapedal’s Masnellyarti Hilman also said district or sub-district heads could shut down companies which violated the law under article 25 of the Environmental Law.

A tough approach looks unlikely, however. Masnellyarti said Bapedal would send staged warning letters as it would take time for companies to establish sound sludge treatment systems.

Masnellyarti said there were three ‘oil sludge’ cases reported: in Tarakan, East Kalimantan (PT Expan), Riau (Caltex) and another in West Papua.

The Tarakan local authorities have asked Bapedal to put pressure on oil companies operating in the area, which have produced thousands of barrels of sludge. (Petromindo 16&18/Jan/01)


The government is preparing a presidential decree which obliges oil and gas investors to divest up to 10% of shares to regional administrations, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. The divestment obligation is already part of production sharing contracts, what’s new is that regional administrations will be given priority when shares are sold. (Petromindo 22/Jan/00)

This will put further pressure on local governments to raise revenues - in order to buy into the companies. It also means that local governments can hardly act as a neutral party in disputes between companies and communities.

horizontal rule

Chronology of Pt TotalFinaElf's Gas Pipe Explosion

Source: WALHI Investigation Team Reports, sent by: KEREBOK. (Volume 3 Number 20 , March 2002)

On Friday March 1, 2002, at approximately 3.30 pm, Iwan was keeping watch over fish ponds when he spotted dense black smoke coming from the TotalFinaElf operations. Iwan along with other workers did not pay any attention on the smoke. It was at approximately 4 pm, that a loud explosion came from one of the PT. TotalFinaElf operations.

A gas pipe had exploded.

The explosion was accompanied with white smoke and flying mud in the air. In a few seconds, the location was on fire. The fire gush reached 50 meters and surpassed the rig tower.

The community living around the rig location panicked. TotalFinaElf soon evacuated everyone to avoid unexpected situation. Fish farmers were evacuated as well as other fisher folks. One worker at a shrimp gathering post said that they had been woken up at approximately 1 a.m. and were ordered to get into a TotalFinaElf speedboat to be evacuated. The farmers were worried about leaving behind their shrimp harvests. When they asked about their shrimps, one officer replied, ‘just leave them behind.’ One of the post owners asked for a written assurance for their shrimp ponds but the only response from one officer was that ‘if something happens, just sue Total.’

According to the community who lived at Banati, they saw gas coming out from a misty river surface. The gas followed the river flow into the sea while it was low tide.

Based on an investigation, sixteen fish farmers and pond keepers did not evacuate. They stayed together in one small house about one kilometre from the GTS E site. One fish farmer did not go anywhere and stayed in a small hut only 100 meters away from the explosion location.

On the next day, Saturday, March 2, 2002, at 11.00 a.m., half of the community returned to their huts. They had to have reasons in order to gain permission from TotalFinaElf security officers and the police to return home.

The community has observed black oil that they strongly suspect as resulting from the explosion. There is also gas caused by the explosion flowing in the river out to the sea. As a consequence, the community living near the riverside were not allowed to light any fires as well as turning on electricity generators or boat engines.

H. Jarbe, a shrimp farm owner who lives nearest to the location had an opportunity to harvest 151 kilograms of shrimps a day before the explosion at GTS E. Unfortunately, all the shrimps were left to rot because TotalFinaElf officers did not allow him to approach the farm for security and safety reasons. Twenty-four hectares of farm normally produces at least 1 ton of shrimps every harvest season.

On Sunday, March 3, 2002, a layer of oil on the river surface where farmers use this water for farming was still observed. Thus, the farmers were afraid to change the water as they normally do during high tide.

The Kutai Regency investigation team who tried to enter to a safe position at the gas blow out location and condensate- Tunu E5 well at the Maera rig, were stopped by TotalFinaElf management who would not allow them to enter due to safety reasons. The team had already confirmed an appointment to go to the location on Sunday, March 3, after negotiating with Pertamina Processing Unit V and TotalFinaElf one day before.

On Monday, March 4, 2002, a layer of oil was still apparent on the river surface. This was more apparent during low tide and at ponds of such farmers as Bisri and H.Onggeng. The oil also stuck to nipah palm trees near pond locations.

On the same day at 9.30 a.m., an anti-pollution boat called the ‘Delta Converse’, occupied by three TotalFinaElf officers led by a local person conducted an inventory of the community fish ponds at Bayur II. This inventory was done to gather information like: who the farm owners are and the measurement of the ponds as well as total shrimp production of each farm. Based on information from these officers, the Maera Rig was still not safe and would be abandoned in a short time. The community did not press charges but Total promised to give compensation if destruction did occur.

H. Jarbe was one of the farmers who met with WALHI. He had six ponds at the location with a total area of 94 hectares. He was forced to harvest earlier. He was only able to harvest shrimps for one month and four days when the normal period is three months. He was concerned that all shrimps would die before the end of three months since most of them were already unhealthy.

Due to the gas pipe explosion at Maera Rig, which contaminated shrimp ponds with oil and gas solutions, 59 shrimp farmers' harvests failed. These figures do not include shrimp harvests of farmers from RT. Dg. Makkare. The total area of farming destruction has reached 594 hectares. The area that has been directly hit by condensate is around Bayur II and Bayur III, Sepatin Village, Anggana District, Kutai Kertanegara Regency. This was the worst contaminated area. At these two locations, dead shrimps were able to be found everywhere. This was suspected to be due to waste flowing along the community farms.


Down To Earth Articles on BP Tangguh LNG project from 2002 and 2003.

OilWatch Bulletin 10, October 2000

Sources: East Timor, West Papua/Irian and Indonesia. Minority Right Group International. Report. 1997; Petroleum Review. December, 1998

West Papua/Irian is the easternmost part and is the largest province of the Indonesian archipelago. The island containing West Papua/Irian and Papua New Guinea is extremely rich in minerals and energy.

West Papua/Irian is geographically and geologically close to Australasia Mucho of the same could le said of its vegetation and people.

West Papua/Irian has been inhabited for at least 30,000 years. The people have retained many of their early form of living.  They are scattered throughout the whole territory in small clans and are kept apart by terrain, language and customs. No indigenous language has more than 150,000 speakers and some are spoken by only a few thousand. The people live mainly by subsistence farming.

West Papua/Irian have an intimate relationship with land. Land is not just resource for making money. Land has a deep and unifying meaning in their lives both, in terms of their inner selves and outer world.

West Papua/Irian was part of the Dutch East Indies. In August 1962, the Netherlands and Indonesia agreed that the Dutch would leave West Papua/Irian and transfer sovereignty to the UN Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) for a period of 6 years until a national referendum could be held to chose independence or to be integrated into Indonesia. But in May 1963, Indonesia had taken over the UNTEA and so failed to operated as intended.

In 1963 the Free Papua Movement (OPM) was formed, in opposition to Indonesia control. On June 25, 2000 the Second Papuan People's Congress at Port Numbay (Jayapura) adopted a Resolution, asking for the world recognition of the sovereignty of the Papuan people and for investigations into and the trial of the perpetrators of crimes against humanity in West Papua.

West Papua/Irian has the world's largest proven gold deposit (valued at US $ 40 billion), and the second largest open cut copper mine, and the are also fase transmigration and intensive logging.

The area is also rich in oil.  The main company operating in the area is Arco, operating off-shore. The 183 Tcf Tangguh find located on the Weriagar and Berau blocks, rank as one of the world's largest natural gas discoveries. Development plans call for LNG production to begin in time for anticipated increases in market demand in 2005 with the Berau Bay region emerging as a major new gas basin.


Oilnews resistance 20, September 2001

The recent increase in tension in West Papua, punctuated by the murder of political prisoners and the arrest of independence leaders, has not stopped the transnational companies continuing with plans to exploit the territory’s natural resources.

The giant Tangguh gas fields in off the north western coast, contain an estimated 20 trillion cubic feet of gas. The British American merger BP/Amoco (BP) plans to start production in 2005 and is seeking sales contracts in China. BP plans to build a liquefied natural gas receiving terminal in Shenzen, Hong Kong, if contracts are agreed. British Gas plc is also an investor in Tangguh, whose 2 fields are being developed under production sharing contracts with Pertamina.

BP also has a 50 percent stake in Indonesia’s largest coal mining company PT Kaltim Prima Coal in Sangatta, East Kalimantan. The mine was forced to close during a labor dispute last year (see DTE 47:6). President Wahid has promised that the Tangguh project will benefit the people of West Papua, and has said the environment should be protected during the project’s development.

In September last year, regional Bapedal chief Ali Kastella said the Tangguh project threatened thousands of hectares of mangroves forests in Berau Bay and said the company needed to consult local communities when planning exploration activities. Earlier in the year, it was reported that his office had called for a halt to further exploration at the project pending the results of an environmental impact analysis (see DTE 45:15).

EIA pilot project

Indonesia’s environment minister, Sonny Keraf, has said that the Tangguh gas project will be a test-case for a new law which gives local people a legal voice in every proposed development project. Tangguh would be the ‘pilot project’ for the law on community participation in environmental impact assessments, which was due to come into effect in November last year. According to Keraf´s deputy, Ali Jumardi, local governments via regional and district environmental impact agencies (Bapedalda) would facilitate dialogue between developers and local people. Arbitration of disputes would be the responsibility of a ‘new mechanism’ set out in a separate government regulation.

The EIA process has been mostly ignored or treated as a formality by developers until now. Local governments have almost always acted as agents of developers, often employing the security forces to subdue opposition to projects. It is unlikely that any new laws or regulations will have positive consequences for local communities, unless they include the right of local people to veto projects in their areas.

(Indonesian Observer 21&22/Sep/00; Jakarta Post 12/Jul/00, 9/Dec/00)

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OilWatch Resistance News 27, April 2002

In recent years BP - the world's third largest oil group - has become recognised in industry circles as one of the greenest and most socially responsible energy multinationals. It is 'pro-engagement': the company courts NGO opinion, funds conservation organisations and has signed various agreements committing it to respect human rights and protect the environment. The company claims green credentials by investing in solar power and cutting greenhouse gas emissions within its own operations.

NGOs and communities with direct experience of BP's operations see another side of BP which clashes with the public image. BP has been accused of collusion in human rights abuses in Colombia and has clashed with indigenous forest-dwellers in Venezuela's Orinoco delta. Further controversy has focused on projects and investments in Angola, Tibet, Sudan and Alaska. These all point to a yawning gap between words and deeds.

Critics point out that BP's funding for solar energy is only a small fraction of its overall business and say that the company's real interest remains in fossil fuels.

The company insists its new Tangguh liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in West Papua's Bintuni Bay should not be judged by past projects - but what other concrete evidence is there to go on? In Indonesia, the company's operations at the Kaltim Prima Coal mine - co-owned with British-based mining multinational Rio Tinto plc - do not provide much cause for confidence (see KPC section, below).

It is also worth looking at BP's main partner in the Tangguh project. This is Pertamina, the notoriously corrupt state-owned oil company which has a dirty record on human rights too. Pertamina is in partnership with Exxon Mobil in Aceh where troops paid to guard the gas installations have committed a series of well-documented human rights abuses (see DTE 50:1).


For the people living in villages around Bintuni Bay BP's project will mean irreversible change. Over 500 people will be moved from their homes in Tanah Merah to a newly created village 3.5 km to the west in Saengga. Forests will be cut - with resulting loss of resources and biodiversity. Gas platforms, pipelines, processing plant, port facilities, airstrip and employee accommodation will be built on the 3,416 ha project site. In Bintuni Bay, shipping will increase and local fishing activities will be disrupted. There will be an influx of outsiders as workers are brought in to construct the facilities. The potential impacts predicted in BP's own studies include:


Noise and light pollution;


Gas emissions including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide; liquid and solid waste from gas drilling, LNG processing, vehicles and shipping - the solid waste includes mercury contaminated activated carbon;


Sanitary waste;


Port activities may interfere with local fishing and shrimping and transportation between villages;


The airport may attract ‘unauthorised settlement’ placing a higher burden on local ecosystem;


Bilge water from LNG tankers may introduce exotic species that could alter the ecology of the Bay.

Many of these changes to the physical environment can be predicted and plans can be drawn up to minimise some of the negative effects. This is what BP is attempting to do through the environmental impact analysis (ANDAL) process. But other changes are not so easily foreseen. These include the key question of security at the site - and arrangements for guarding the site will depend on external, factors outside the company's control.


There is great concern that the Indonesian military (TNI) will initiate conflict in nearby areas in order to justify the need for a strong security presence at the site. Villagers have expressed fear about the military in various meetings with BP staff. People in Sidomakmur, for example, a village that lies within what BP describes as the ‘indirectly affected area’, were ‘very concerned that the Tangguh Project might use the military in their operations. They have had experiences with the military guarding the sawmill and logging operations’.(BP TOR ANDAL 6.1)

Last year's military repression in Wasior, in which ten people were killed, others 'disappeared' and many homes burned down, has already been linked to the Tangguh project. Papuan observers point out that the killing of five police mobile brigade (Brimob) officers which sparked intensive military operations in Wasior, was timed to coincide with the visit of the British Ambassador to the region in June last year. The implied intention was to send a strong message to BP that they cannot do without the ‘help’ of the security forces.

For the TNI, big projects have always meant big opportunities for extra pay to guard project sites - a situation that has led to a sharp increase in the incidence of human rights abuses - at the Freeport/Rio Tinto mine in West Papua and at Exxon Mobil's gas installations in Aceh. In the Bintuni Bay area itself, there is already a Brimob presence which has had negative consequences for local people. According to the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Djayanti Group, which has timber, plantations and fishing interests in Bintuni Bay, pays a 20-man police detachment ‘to enforce land grabs from local residents.’

When confronted with questions on security, BP staff insist they want to reduce dependence on the military - at one stage the idea of creating a ‘military-free zone’ at Tangguh was floated. The company's 'Community Development Strategy' document says that trust and acceptance by the local community will be crucial: ‘We pledge to work with Pertamina to ensure critical national resources are protected primarily through our acceptance by the local populace as a responsible, and welcome member of the community; thus eliminating the need for extraordinary efforts by security forces to preserve and protect people and facilities.’


How BP will deal with military opposition to this plan has not been publicly outlined yet. This is one of the issues that BP's human rights impacts study should be looking at. The study is being conducted by Bennett Freeman, a member of the Clinton administration's state department staff, contracted by BP. Freeman was one of the main architects of the US/UK Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights which BP signed up for. Before leaving for West Papua, he contacted the UK-based NGO, Tapol and was keen to find out who, if not the TNI, would be suitable candidates for guarding the facilities. The possibility of ‘buying off’ the TNI was also raised.

The price may be high. The security forces are in a strong position to make demands and there is very little political will on the part of President Megawati to exercise any meaningful control over the military. The assassination of pro-independence leader Theys Eluay in November has increased tension and the president's failure to order an independent enquiry into the killing indicates a high level of military involvement and a serious endeavour to cover up the political background to the murder. The so-called 'security approach' used by president Suharto for dealing with unrest in West Papua and other trouble spots is back in vogue under Megawati, after her predecessor's attempts at dialogue were thwarted. In November Megawati's senior minister for political and security affairs, Bambang Yudhoyono Susilo announced that a further 32,500 police and soldiers would be sent to conflict areas including West Papua and Aceh. The following month, Megawati said the military should ‘be firm in carrying out their job and not to be worried about accusations of human rights abuses’. (AFP 26/Nov/01 & 29/Dec/01)


Unlike other companies operating in West Papua, BP has made some effort to communicate its project plans to local communities and consult villagers on impacts, resettlement and compensation. It is far from clear, however, that communities have all the information and opportunities for dialogue that they want, as there are already signs of dissatisfaction. Over the resettlement of Tanah Merah, BP acknowledges that despite ‘substantial upgrades to their current situation’ being planned, the resettlement still has ‘the potential for dissatisfaction.’ The villagers have not been informed when they will be moved - a situation that is leading to some frustration, according to Indonesia's mining advocacy network, JATAM. ‘Up until now we have not received assurance of when we are going to be relocated…..we are not allowed to build and plant…’ said one villager. The community is also very concerned about the prospects of pollution from the BP site threatening their shrimp, crab, fish and mangrove resources on which their livelihoods depend.

The issue of compensation is causing resentment too: land rates set in 1997 by the local government, were as low as Rp15 - Rp30 per square metre. (Rp10,300 = US$1.)

According to JATAM, ‘people are beginning to realise that the agreement they made with BP is a mistake.’. One villager commented, ‘We have been deceived by the company and government; yet we realize that up until today we still have not had the courage to fight for our aspirations’.

Despite BP's commitment to transparency, not all available information has been made public. A large document containing the Terms of Reference for the Environmental Impact Analysis which BP head office assured NGOs was available as a public document, turns out not to be public after all. (DTE has obtained a copy of this document.) It is important that all information - including the results of the human rights impact study - is made accessible to communities affected by the project and the NGOs working with them, if BP really wants to be perceived differently from other investors.


The British government’s very public support for Tangguh reflects a high level of confidence in Indonesia’s investment opportunities. According to British energy minister, Brian Wilson, Britain was Indonesia's biggest investor in the oil/gas sector in the year 2000 and second largest overall after Japan. Over the last 30 years Britain has invested more than any other country apart from the US in the oil/gas sector. Wilson, who visited Indonesia in November last year, said that BP had committed to a total of $11 billion in investments, with $1.9 billion in current capital to be spent on Indonesian projects, including Tangguh. In total BP planned to invest $3-4 billion developing Tangguh. ‘We continue to see great opportunities for cooperation in energy’, he said.


Business codes of conduct or business principles have been developed by multinational companies, NGOs, governments and international bodies such as the UN agencies, and the EU in response to public pressure for companies to be socially and environmentally responsible.

BP is a founder member of the UN's Global Compact - which calls for adherence to nine principles covering some aspects of human rights, labour rights and the environment.

BP is a signatory to the US/UK voluntary principles on security and human rights, launched in 2000. Rio Tinto and Freeport MacMoran, joint investors in West Papua's notorious gold and copper mine, are also signatories to these principles.

BP also commits itself to the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The company has been involved in discussions on the UN Human Rights Principles for Business currently being drafted.

BP is a member of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development originally set up in 1990. The Council is pushing corporate interests forward in preparation for the Rio + 10 meeting in Johannesburg this year and has been involved in the creation of such dubious projects as the Global Mining Initiative and the Mines Minerals and Sustainable Development, to which indigenous peoples and NGOs have objected strongly. (See Corporate Europe Observer - Issue 9 for a full discussion on corporate involvement in Rio + 10 at

While many of the objectives in these codes are positive, their main drawback is that they are voluntary. There are no sanctions if the principles are not followed and there is no independent outside body to monitor compliance.

Indigenous communities attending a meeting on mining in London last year argued that voluntary initiatives are not acceptable. A statement drawn up by participants said:

‘In recent years the mining industry has become more aggressive and sophisticated in manipulating national and international laws and policies to suit its interests. The mining laws of more than seventy countries have been changed in the past two decades. Laws protecting indigenous peoples and the environment are undermined…’

For this reason NGOs supporting indigenous groups want ‘politically and legally enforceable measures that will hold the mining industry accountable, above all to mining and exploration-affected communities.’

(London Declaration 20/Sep/01)

(Source: Terms of Reference integrated ANDAL gas exploitation, LNG facilities, Tangguh LNG project, Manokwari, Sorong and Fak Fak regencies Irian Jaya, PT Intersys Kelola Maju; Kerebok Vol.2 No 16, December 2001; Financial Times 17/Dec/0; 6/Nov/01; Laksamana.Net, 6/Nov/01; Reuters 6/Nov/01)

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OilWatch Resistance News 28, May 2002

Mama Nazar is not young anymore. However, she is still physically strong to hunt for Karaka (crabs) in a mangrove forest along the Bintuni Bay shore, Papua. She still goes to the ocean to catch shrimp, fish and crab, all major sources of income in that area. Living off the natural resources of Papua has made Mama Nazar a strong and independent woman.

For a long time, crabs have become a reliable commodity for the community that live in the Irorutu III Village, Babo subdistrict, Manokwari. Crabs retrieved from mangrove forests and fish caught in the ocean are brought to the airport to be sold to those boarding planes to leave Manokwari. If the day is going well, crabs are priced at Rp 3,000- Rp 4,000 per crab and are quickly sold out. Often Mama Nazar gets orders of 50 crabs from plane passengers.

Normally on Tuesdays, Mama Nazar and other citizens in the village hunt for crabs in groups. This activity normally will be followed on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays after the catch results on Tuesday are sold. If forced to go into the ocean, she will then work together with the owners of motorized boats. This activity requires endurance as sometimes she is not able to go home for three days. The catch results are then divided in two with the owners of the boats. If they catch ten crabs, three crabs will go to the owners of the boats and the other seven are sold at the airport that is two kilometers from the village.

Mama Nazar now worries about the future. The oil giant BP has entered the Babo area and began building a large liquefied natural gas project called Tangguh. Mama Nazar worries about the fate of her grandchildren with this massive project operating in their village. A documentary film presented by a NGO in Babo about the impacts of seismic operations by the Unocal company in Bontang, East Kalimantan has made Mama Nazar very sad.

‘I will later die, but what about the fate of my grandchildren? Whereas the marine products like fish, crab, shrimp will die like what has happened at Bontang, East Kalimantan (Mahakam Delta),’ stated a teary eyed Mama.

According to Mama, ‘it is better just to die, rather than be troubled like our brothers and sisters in Bontang. If the forest is destroyed, the ocean is full of oil, I cannot imagine the suffering that will be in store for our grandchildren and future generations that live in this village. We will not be able to bathe anymore offshore in the sea.’

She added that after seeing the film about the impacts of seismic operations, she went home to her six grandchildren. Her coming was welcomed with happiness. ‘Grandmother has come! Grandmother has come!,’ happily cried the adolescent aged children.

‘You can be joyous today, but grandmother will one day leave you. Up until now, grandmother has been able to provide a life and schooling for you from forest products and hunting crabs. What grandmother is reaping and experiencing now is still good, but what about all of you. In the future you will receive suffering, because shortly a oil company will come to set up operations in our village,’ said Mama bitterly.

The Potential of Nature for the Irorutu III Village Community

The Irorutu village community and Babo community generally make a living by hunting and gathering forest products. Forest gathering products include sago, edible leaves and fruits and wood. Wood is used by the community to build houses and boats as well as is used for fire wood. Their hunting activities including catching animals, like deer, wild pigs, cassowary, crocodiles and various species of birds. Various local knowledge is possessed by the indigenous community in terms of natural resource management that has been passed on through the generations. This is a value system that has become a special trait of the community.

The Babo area possesses a high degree of land and marine biodiversity. Rich natural resources include fishing, forest, agricultural and various mining resources like oil and natural gas, gold, silver and copper.

Babo's waters are home to various species of fish, shrimp, crocodile and crabs. One shrimp industry is operated by PT. Bintuni Mina Raya (BMR), a subsidiary of PT. Djayanti Group and PT. Usaha Mina Sorong.

The forest in this area generally can be classified as mangrove, sago, savanna and low land tropical rainforest that grows several kinds of wood like: Bakau (a mangrove tree), sago, Merbau (a timber tree), canari, Matoa, Agathis, Damar, Bintanggur, and others. Logging, sawmills and the chip wood industry have provided the largest foreign exchange to the Manokwari District since 1984.

The local community generally still practices traditional agriculture to fulfill their needs and fulfill the local demand. The plant species mostly grown include vegetable, peanut and tuber species. Other than agricultural activities, a palm oil industry has been established by PT. Varita Maju Tama with an area of 60,000 hectares in the Tofoi village area. In a short time, the company will be producing palm oil. Babo is also able to support other cultivations like chocolate, coffee, coconut, nutmeg, cloves and others.

Source of the Problem

The Bintuni Bay area has the some of the richest oil and gas reserves in Asia. Based on estimated exploration results of 2000 BSCF (new exploitation), where a part of this reserve exists in the Babo region.

Many problems between the community and investors remain unresolved but a new problem has surfaced just recently. The intrusion of other foreign investors with large capital like Arco (now BP) have caused various problems like the burning of indigenous community sago trees, the death of pigs, and unresolved land compensation issues, among others. During the company's later pre-construction stages, this company will require 8,000 workers for a period of three years and then will only carry 350 workers into the production stage. The problem remains unaddressed of what will happen to those let go from the company after this period of time.

BP-Pertamina is prepared to conduct exploitation activities in the region in 2001. The activity has been branded the ‘Tangguh LNG Project’. According to BP-Pertamina results of exploitation, oil and natural gas reserves in Bintuni Bay are 18,3 TCF (trillion cubic feet). From approximately 50 liquefied natural gas units in the Babo subdistrict, the project is estimated to produce 6-7 million tons of liquefied natural gas per year. Two processing trains will be developed initially. The construction of processing trains and supporting facilities is scheduled to begin in 2002 and the project will be in full operation by 2005. The third train and following additions will immediately begin after the market is developed.

The special quality and abundance of the natural resources has now become one of the dominant factors used to enter this region based on its status as a ‘Integrated Economic Development Mainstay Region’.

Conservation Alert

According to a village leader, Thomas Ateta, this village community previously did not live at permanent residences. In the sixties, the community moved to Tanah Merah. There were some that moved to Saengga while other clans still settled. Up to 1975, these people joined with the Masipa community in Tanah Merah. Still in the same year, the other clan also followed and moved to Saengga.

In 1979, a timber company entered the Tofoi region and the clans moved back to Tofoi. The community (Sumuri ethnic group) that once lived together were divided into several clans. Thomas Ateta hopes that the unity within the community is still strong today to keep the land, village, sacred places and natural richness in tact. He hopes that the Sumuri community will stand together to protect the area from the intruding mining companies threatening environmental destruction. It is thus urgent that the Saengga, Tofoi and Tanah Merah communities think about steps/actions of saving their natural resources that up to today have sustained their living. The methods must be done together and cannot be separated.

‘Unity to save the environment, traditions and wealth must be kept in tact for the sake of the birds, trees, fish, shrimp and others. If not, where again will this wildlife live? Whereas our life depends on this wildlife’, he stated with hope.

Sources: JATAM field visit to Babo, January 2002, interview with Agung; (PERDU), 12/02/2002, dBase PERDU; KEREBOK Vol. 3 No. 18 January 2002

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OilWatch Resistance News 31, August 2002

Many people believe that patience is a key to winning any struggle.  However, acts of patience are meaningless when one side is playing unfair, manipulating information, denying aspirations and breaking agreements.

About fifty people from Saengga Village, Babo Regency, Manokwari District, Papua, blockaded the BP Indonesia Base camp on May 13, 2002. The Saengga community is no longer patient and has recognized the unfairness they have been dealt. The Saengga community expressed their disappointment with the failure of the Manokwari government and BP Indonesia to act based on agreements made at a workshop held from April 24 to 27, 2002.

‘This climax in a series of events has resulted with the Saengga Village community demanding that commitments be fulfilled that were made by the Manokwari local Level II Government and BP Indonesia,’ analyzed the Manokwari NGO Alliance for Tangguh Advocacy in a May 13, 2002 press release.  The press release also stated that ‘up until now, there has yet to be a sign that BP Indonesia and the Manokwari Local Level II Government will facilitate discussions about agreements made in the Saengga Workshop with the community in Manokwari.’

The blockade ended in the early evening as the community went home for evening prayer. Also the community believed a community member working at BP (Government and Public Affairs -GPA staff), Ladis Serang, would take the community demands to the company for study and discussion in Jakarta.

On May 7, 2002, sixty-three people from Saengga Village stated nine agreements made at a workshop. It was agreed that two of the agreements would be discussed later and would be followed-up by the head of the Manokwari District and BP Indonesia between the dates of April 29th and May 4th. Saengga Village delegates were supposed to be part of this discussion but no such discussion occurred.

In a community position statement, the community demanded that: BP commit to the previous nine agreements; the Manokwari government follow up on the workshop agreements and that all demands in the statement be responded to within three days.

The Saengga community demanded that the most urgent issue that needed to be followed up immediately in Manokwari was a review on the status and value of the land that at the moment is benefiting BP Indonesia.  It was agreed that BP would facilitate the transportation costs of the community to the Manokwari follow up meeting and the Manokwari district government would facilitate logistics and accommodations for the community's stay in Manokwari.

Other important agreement discussed in the workshop consisted of; community access to nature, agreement on labour, community development, existence of community traditions, human rights, construction of the marine transportation infrastructure at the nearest town; construction of asphalt roads from Tobi Village to Tanah Merah; the mapping of the village and the setting up of a body or foundation to realize the previously mentioned programs (see Gravels: Nine Agreements between the Saengga Community and BP).

The developments related to the BP Indonesia operations, to exploit gas and conduct liquefied natural gas (LNG) operations in the Bintuni Bay have occurred in the Saengga Village. Therefore, the Manokwari NGO Alliance for Tangguh Advocacy, working on behalf of the community while following their own organisation's visions and missions, have taken the position to always be consistent in struggling for the rights of the marginalised community.

In connection with the Saengga community blockade, the Manokwari NGO Alliance for Tangguh Advocacy released a press statement stating that: ‘The actions of the Saengga Village community are in reaction to the non-transparent actions of BP Indonesia, Pertamina and the Government especially towards the Saengga Village and communities that will be impacted by the development of this LNG project.’

The press statement went onto say that ‘the occurrences of Monday, 13 May 2002, should not have had to be done if the government, BP Indonesia and Pertamina took responsibility and followed all commitments made together with the community.’

The press statement also demanded that the community, BP Indonesia, Pertamina, the government and other involved parties in this project follow up on unresolved issues through dialogue without the use of violence.

The final demand of the press statement called for a moratorium on the Tangguh project and open consultations, without pressures directed to the Bintuni Bay community and other communities that will be impacted. The provision of broad information beforehand related to the impacts of the project was another call as well as the community being given the ‘opportunity to deliberate and choose what is best for them.’

Land Status

For the Tangguh LNG project, BP Indonesia offered the community 15 Rupiah per square meter of land. The price of a fried banana in Papua is 250 Rupiah.

Discrepancy has also been discovered between land acquisition documents of the company and those in possession of the community. BP Indonesia has claimed they have bought the Saengga Village land but Mr. Tambunan (a farmer) disputes this, stating that the contract that BP possesses covers rights to build infrastructure on the land only and there is no rights to establish an enterprise.  These issues are being looked into more depth by the Manokwari NGO Alliance for Tangguh Advocacy.

Related to the land issue again is the discovery that the land of the Soway community was taken over by force.  From a total of 900 hectares, 850 hectares was acquired by BP Indonesia, however the remaining 50 hectares was not to be acquired by the company. However, several community members have testified that BP are trying to pressure that this 50 hectares of land located at Tanah Merah be given to the company for location of their LNG plant.

Source: Manokwari NGO Alliance on Tangguh Advocacy Press Release. May 14, 2002.
Distributed by: Kerebok 21 April, 2002

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CNOOC inks LNG deal for Indonesian supply

Sep. 22, 2006 (China Knowledge) ­ China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) has finalized a deal with Indonesia's Tangguh gas project, the companies announced Wednesday.

Developed by British Petroleum (BP), the Indonesian Tangguh gas field will supply 2.6 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to a terminal in Fujian Province annually for over 25 years beginning from 2009, when five Fujian cities will be supplied with LNG from the six fields in the Bintuni area of Papua.

No financial details of the deal were revealed, and whether the deal needs central government's approval still remains unclear. However, CNOOC Vice President Wu Zhenfang told China Daily Online that the deal has received active support from both countries and that CNOOC is exploring future opportunities to expand its LNG supplies.

Under the deal, crude oil prices will be used to determine the price of LNG.

This deal with Indonesia follows CNOOC's first LNG supply deal in four years, in which Malaysia's Petronas Gas Bhd. will supply LNG to CNOOC's terminal in Shanghai. But unlike the Tangguh-CNOOC deal, the Petronas-CNOOC deal was agreed at an undisclosed price.

An earlier China Knowledge report stated that the price might be set at US$5 million to US$6 million per BTU, well below the market price for gas delivered into North Asia at US$9 million to US$11 million BTU.

CNOOC's Chairman Fu Chengyu remained tight-lipped, only saying that Petronas is free to regard the price as a benchmark for LNG prices in Asian markets.

As the world's second-largest consumer of oil, China is struggling to explore new energy sources to cope with the demand, and the government has made sourcing for energy sources an urgent priority.

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BP may build more LNG processing units at company's Tangguh plant

The Jakarta Post, October 25, 2007

Ika Krismantari, The Jakarta Post, Babo, Papua

Amid surging domestic and foreign demand, the Indonesian subsidiary of Anglo-American energy giant BP is considering constructing more liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing units at the company's Tangguh plant in Papua.

Tangguh project executive vice president David Clarkson said here Tuesday the company had set up a special team to study the possibility of new trains, as LNG production lines are called, at the existing plant.

"We have determined a site that can be used for up to eight trains," he told journalists visiting Tangguh.

Clarkson said the new trains would be built to increase LNG production from two other trains currently nearing completion.

"We are concentrating on getting these (two trains) finished. We are also looking at further development and opportunities for building more trains," Clarkson said.

BP began construction of the two trains in March 2005. The first is expected to begin commercial operation in January 2009 and the second is to come online five months later. As of September, the project stands 82 percent completed.

Tangguh will sell LNG to four overseas buyers -- China's Fujian (2.6 million tons a year), South Korean K-Power and Posco (1.11 million tons a year) and Sempra Energy on the western coast of Mexico (3.6 million tons a year).

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro has said he would like to see BP sell LNG from the trains under consideration.

Upstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Agency (BPMIGAS) chairman Kardaya Warnika has said that some domestic companies -including state-owned electric company Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) and state gas distributor Perusahaan Gas Negara (PGN) -- have shown interest in buying gas from Tangguh.

In response, Clarkson said BP had not yet decided where it would sell LNG from the planned trains. "We still want to see where the best business opportunity is."

Tangguh is a major multinational project with a lifespan of more than 30 years that exploits gas fields in the rugged, mountainous Bintuni Bay region. The gas fields, with proven reserves of 14.4 trillion cubic feet, were discovered in the mid-1990s.

The project's operator is BP Berau Ltd, which also owns a 37.16 percent stake in the project. The other owners are China's CNOOC (16.9 percent), MI Berau (16.30 percent), Nippon Oil Exploration of Japan (12.23 percent), KG Berau (10 percent) and LNG Japan Corporation (7.35 percent).

Meanwhile, BP group reported Tuesday a 29 percent slump in third-quarter net profit due to higher maintenance costs and outages at key refineries.

The company posted a net profit of US$4.4 billion for the three months ending Sept. 30, down from its $6.2 billion profit for the same period in 2006. Revenue rose 2.7 percent to $72.6 billion.



KEREBOK : An on line bulletin on Mining in Indonesia (including oil and gas)
Volume 1, Number 1, February 2000.
Written by: Muhammad Ibrahim, WALHI (Friends of the Earth Indonesia)

The US-owned oil company, Mobil Oil Indonesia Inc. (MOI), which has been conducting its oil mining operation in Aceh since 1971, has proven to be totally and completely alienated itself from the severe social reality taking place in Aceh, despite the fact that its grand industrial structure stands on the very land. The political, social and humanity crises which have been gripping Aceh for no less than the last decade seem to just completely slip out of the attention or awareness of MOI. On the other hand, in several cases in fact, MOI have proven to be a significant factor in worsening the crises. Ironically, MOI have never been willing to either realize or even honestly acknowledge the existence of the situation!

To make it worst, even in the critically unpredictable current situation in Aceh, the US government and Mobil Oil were only concerned about the company’s operational activities being disturbed by the situation. They were not the least bit concerned about the unpredictable fate of the Acehnese due to the severe living and security conditions in Aceh, as it worsens by the day.

Ironically, the US government and MOI seem immune to the countless facts of human rights violations occurring in Aceh, whose sadistic scale have far surpassed those occurred in East Timor.

All of this on the US government and Mobil Oil was completely revealed on the visit of the US Embassy Staff to Aceh (Thursday, 16 December 1999). In a meeting with local NGO activists and religious leaders, the Secretary of Politics of the US Ambassador for Indonesia, Ian McCary, accompanied by the Assistant to the Military Attaché, Lieutenant Colonel William A Comley, and the Advisor to the US Minister of Foreign Affairs for Indonesia, Michael P. Owens, expressed their deep concerns over the current disruptions of MOI’s operations as well as stating that the Acehnese will also suffer the negative outcomes should the company be forced to stop operating due to the crises. This statement was directly and strongly countered by the local NGO activists by stating, “The Acehnese will neither feel or suffer any loss should MOI cease its operations.” Anyway, what kind of argument can lead us to comprehend, let alone to believe, the statement made by the US Embassy staff?

It is indeed truly amusing. Should we believe that the US government has never been aware of the fact that the profits derived from Aceh’s oil and gas wealth that has been massively extracted by a joint co-operation between MOI and Pertamina for almost 30 years has returned to Aceh in the amount of no more than 5%? Or, maybe we are supposed to believe that the US government has never learned the fact that, in the area surrounding the company’s grand industrial structures, there are 375,000 people of 10 subdistricts of North Aceh living in severely devastating poverty? Or, could it be that the US government has never been aware of how the annual operational activities of MOI have entirely exposed the surrounding communities to severe health risks due to the contamination of air and water in their living environment?

To make it worst, during the implementation of DOM (Daerah Operasi Militer/Military Operation Area) from 1989 to 1998, MOI has shamelessly contributed for the smooth running of the military operation that has gone down in history as the military operation responsible for the loss of lives of tens of thousands of Acehnese. MOI, together with Arun Pertamina, provided excavators and logistics in more than one occasion to the Indonesian military all through the period of their massive human rights violations. The said period still left wide-open wounds in the hearts of the Acehnese as well as deep psychological trauma due to the horrifying military brutality they were forced to endure. Therefore, looking at the previously mentioned facts, the proper counter question to put forward to the US government should be; “What losses?!”

Is it not a fact that the Acehnese as “The Nation in Waiting” will be most at an advantage if MOI and Pertamina completely stop extracting what’s ever left of the land’s oil and gas deposits, so that there will be something left for the future generations of Acehnese to manage for the better lives and well-being of the Acehnese?

As a civilized nation, globally known to upheld human rights values and democracy, the US and MOI (as one of its capital mines in Aceh) should be ashamed to have once again added to the suffering of the Acehnese by making such baseless statement. Isn’t the US as an “influential” country in the international world supposed to have initiated concrete steps, together with the UN, in order to immediately end the crises in Aceh by putting forward and addressing the core issue behind the seemingly endless crises in Aceh?

Moreover, human rights enforcement, the realization of democracy (by accelerating the realization of peaceful referendum for the Acehnese), the return of the values of justice and the dignity of the Acehnese previously trampled by the military are the things whose realizations should also be facilitated by the US. Unlike the current situation, the US shouldn’t have fallen into the opinion of the Indonesian government, which narrowed the whole issue on Aceh down simply as a separatist movement. In fact, the US has always known what has really been happening in Aceh, just like they know what really happened in East Timor.

In conclusion, it is high time that MOI as a multinational corporation coming from the same civilized nation to pay for their past mistakes and violations, as well as to enforce corporate ethics that truly uphold social and humanitarian values, and not to only strive for its capitalism glory!

Therefore, whatever the US government and MOI plan to do in order to deal with the current situation in Aceh, they can be sure that the people of Aceh shall put each and every single one of it under severe scrutiny and recorded it in their Social Memory!

Jl. Mampang Prapatan VIII/D No. 20
Jakarta Selatan 12790 INDONESIA
Tel: 62-(021)-7941069 Fax : 62-(021)-7941673

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Sources: The Economist, March 2000; Down to Earth, No. 39. November, 1998

Mobil Oil Indonesia, the biggest producer of natural gas in Indonesia, has been linked to serious human rights violations in the war-torn north Sumatran region of Aceh, where thousand of people have died in fighting between separatist guerrillas and the security forces since 1970s.

Two military posts were set up with company assistance, one near one of Mobil’s operations, called Post 13, the other near Arun plant, called Camp Rancong. The building and facilities for Post 13 were provided by Mobil Oil.

The post was used for interrogating people before they were sent to other posts. The company excavators were used to dig mass graves for military victims in the Sebtang and Tengkorak hills and says that its roads were used to bring victims to the mass graves. In Bukit Sentang, where an estimated 150 bodies were found.

Mobil is also accused of failing to act on cases of its own workers being abducted by the military.

Arun built Camp Rancong, which was used by the notorious Kopassus elite military unit to torture and murder victims of human violations in Aceh.

Aceh provided an estimated 30% of Indonesian’s oil and gas exports or 11% of the country total exports by the late 1980s, and also is scene of atrocities by the Indonesian military in its attempt to crush the independence movement. It was the attacks on the Mobil Oil installation that prompted Jakarta to place the region under military occupation in 1980, since when tens of thousands of people have been killed or disappeared by the soldiers.

In August 1999 th President Habibie and Wiranto Minister of Defense, apologized for abuses and began the withdrawal of 1,000 troops. At least nine mass graves have been exhumed, which may contain as many as 5,000 bodies.

In September 1999, after riots broke out, troops were ordered back to Aceh and hundreds of soldiers were posted at a gas refinery and other industrial sites near Mobil operations.

The list of abuse is very long, including explosions with spilled mud onto farmland and destroyed villagers’ homes, as well as water and noise pollution.

In January this year, President Abdurrahman Wahid was making his first visit as head of State to the Province, The people have intensified their demands for a referendum on independence, similar to the vote held in East Timor. Mr. Wahid traveled not to the capital of the Province Banda Aceh, but to Sabang, a remote island off the province’s northern coast, where he give a speech to a selected audience of dignitaries and promised economic aid.

Any reference to secession he said was limited to banal appeals to local leadership that have to be resolved between themselves. Wahid believes that , if Aceh were to become independent, it could lead to the break -up of Indonesia. Moreover Aceh secession would be a devastating loss to the national economy, since it produces much of the nation oil and gas.

But for the people in Aceh, oil and gas means only repression and exploitation. Under Suharto, Aceh’s natural gas was siphoned off and did little to help the province, where people are poorer than in Java.

On March, 6th, Amnesty International said that “anyone who reports on the human right situation is being targeted and driven away to ensure that there are no witnesses to excesses of the security forces.”

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JAKARTA POST, September 27, 2000

JAKARTA (IO) — Six gunmen hijacked four buses of a US-owned oil company in restive Aceh province and later set three of them ablaze, police were quoted yesterday by Antara as saying.

Superintendent Abadan Bangko, a local police officer, said the buses belonging to Exxon Mobil Oil Indonesia Inc. were empty except for their drivers, who were allowed to flee unharmed after the attack on Monday.

The hijacked buses were on their way to pick up company staff to take them to work, he said.

Banko said the armed men, suspected of being separatist rebels, set on fire three of the buses and skedaddled in the fourth.

Exxon Mobil Oil Indonesia Inc., owned by Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp., exports natural gas from Aceh. Its operations are frequently hampered due to clashes between security forces and rebels from the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

It was the latest violence after Jakarta and GAM leaders prolonged a truce until January 15 in Switzerland on Sunday. More than 100 people have been killed since the ceasefire, which was signed on May 12, came into effect on June 2.

The separatist group has been waging war against Indonesian rule for more than 25 years. More than 5,500 people have perished in the fighting, most of them reportedly killed by Indonesian troops.

In New York, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch warned that the Indonesian government’s failure to address the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Aceh will lead to a huge increase in human rights violations.

 “Abductions, torture, and unlawful killings are taking place on a daily basis throughout Aceh. Civilian authority has all but collapsed, and no one in Jakarta seems to be paying serious attention to human rights issues there,” the two organizations said in a press statement picked up by Antara.

“Indonesia’s financial donors already have the problems in East Nusa Tenggara on the agenda for their annual meeting in October; they urgently need to add Aceh,” the statement said.

The two leading international human rights monitoring organizations called for the immediate suspension of any members of the police or military, including commanders, suspected of involvement in, tolerating, or condoning human rights violations. Analysts say the military would suddenly become pretty small if that happened.

The rights groups called for the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry, consisting of human rights experts, to investigate recent violations and for suspects to be brought to justice in trials which meet international standards for fairness.

The groups noted that frequent attacks by GAM on Indonesian military and police targets presented legitimate security concerns for the government, but the response of the security forces was counterproductive. “Protecting human rights is an essential prerequisite to finding a durable solution to the conflict in Aceh. The targeting of respected civilians is only going to intensify resentment of central government rule and increase instability,” the statement said.

The two organizations urged both sides to uphold their commitments to protect humanitarian workers and to extend this commitment to ensure human rights protection for all civilians in Aceh.

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Since 1991 at least 35 people have been accused of subversion for supporting Aceh Merdeka and sentenced to prison terms of up to 20 years. Some or all may be prisoners of conscience. Drs Nurdin Abdurrahman, a lecturer at the University of Syah Kuala, was arrested in October 1991 and accused of attending meetings at which an Aceh Merdeka leader was present. He was brought to trial in May 1991 and sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment, but the sentence was increased to 13 years upon appeal. Hasbi Abdullah, a lecturer at the same university, was accused of attending “clandestine meetings” in 1990. At the meetings non-violent means of generating international pressure for an independent Acehnese state were discussed. Hasbi Abdullah was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment at a trial which reportedly failed to meet basic international standards of fairness (AI, 1992: 13).

A similar pattern [as in East Timor] of extrajudicial execution and “disappearance” has been evident in Aceh. While the scale of violations has diminished since the height of the counter-insurgency campaign between 1989 and 1991, political killings and “disappearances” have continued in the region in the last year. Just as importantly, the fate of most of those killed or “disappeared” in previous years has yet to be clarified.

The victims of extrajudicial execution in 1992 included elderly men such as Teungku Imam Hamzah, aged 80, who was reportedly shot dead without reason by security forces in April while walking down the road in Lhok Kruntjong, Aceh. Teungku Imam Hamzah was allegedly to be a well-known supporter of Aceh Merdeka , but he was not armed at the time of death and soldiers gave no warning before firing. In December 1991 a young man was reportedly killed, and his body mutilated by soldiers belonging to Kopassus (Komando Pasukan Khusus ), a special counter-insurgency force, in Pidie. According to records, Nurdin Usman Murni was decapitated and his arms and legs were severed from his body.

At least forty people were reported to have “disappeared” in Aceh during the year. They included Abdurrahman, an alleged supporter of Aceh Merdeka, who “disappeared” while serving a 17-and-a-half year sentence for subversion in Lhokseumawe jail in Aceh. Members of a prison fellowship who went for a regular visit to the jail in June 1992 discovered that Abdurrahman was not there. Prison officials said that he had been transferred to the military headquarters (Korem) in Lhokseumawe but military authorities there denied having him in custody. Another alleged member of Aceh Merdeka , Mohammad Jaafar Abdurrahman Ed, a father of four, was arrested in August 1990 on suspicion of assisting Aceh Merdeka, after reporting to a local military command to protest his innocence. He was subsequently transferred to a KOPASSUS command post for interrogation. Thereafter, military authorities refused to provide relatives or lawyers with any information about his fate, and it was feared that he had been killed.

To Amnesty International’s knowledge, there have been no investigations into the unlawful killings and “disappearances” reported over four years in Aceh, and no official condemnation of the practice. Thus, while it is true that the absolute number of political killings and “disappearances” in Aceh has declined substantially in the past year, there has been no fundamental change in the conditions which allowed them to occur. Amnesty International believes, therefore, that there is a real danger that a similar pattern of violations may emerge in the context of future counter-insurgency operations in Aceh or other parts of the country.

In Aceh and North Sumatra, military authorities released hundreds of alleged supporters of Aceh Merdeka who had been held in unacknowledged detention for up to two years. None of those released had been charged or tried and all had been denied procedural guarantees stipulated in Indonesia’s Code of Criminal Procedure. Military authorities in the region told human rights lawyers that the Code did not apply where national security was at stake. As in East Timor, all of those released were required to sign and swear an oath of loyalty to the government and the national ideology, Pancasila , as a condition of their release. Scores of others were believed to remain in unacknowledged police or military custody in Aceh at the end of the year.

In Aceh and North Sumatra scores of suspected supporters of Aceh Merdeka were reported to have been tortured or ill-treated by security forces during the year. Among them was Ishak bin Ismael, a village head, who was arrested by security forces and taken to the police station at Baktia where was tortured to death. According to reports police placed a large wooden beam across the back of his neck and then stood or jumped on it until he was dead. His body was placed in a sack and thrown into a nearby river.

Drs Ismail bin Gani, a father of four and a civil servant at the office of the Regent of Sigli, was arrested and tortured by military authorities in March 1992. Suspected of being an Aceh Merdeka supporter, he was held incommunicado for two months and reportedly tortured to extract a confession. When his wife was allowed to visit him in May, for the first and only time, his arms and legs were broken and he had to be carried by soldiers to meet her. He told her that he had been beaten repeatedly with a length of 2’ by 2’ wood, and had not received any medical treatment.

In May 1992 another suspected Aceh Merdeka supporter, Saleh Ibrahim, was detained, beaten and threatened with death by members of the counter-insurgency force, KOPASSUS, at a command post in Peureulak. Ibrahim said he had been punched and threatened with knives, pistols and dogs by three soldiers at the post so that he would confess. He was one of a group which had recently returned from Malaysia where they had sought refuge together with more than 200 others in previous years.

Civilians living in Aceh Merdeka base areas were also subjected to ill-treatment and torture by security forces seeking revenge or military intelligence. In April 1992, at least a dozen people of the village of Tjot Kruet, Pase, were reportedly beaten by soldiers searching for two suspected members of Aceh Merdeka. The victims, who included three elderly men, were also forced to beat members of their own families, to crawl over rough terrain and to stare into the sun for several hours.

The urban poor, particularly women and children, were frequently beaten and otherwise ill-treated by security personnel carrying out “cleanliness” and “order” campaigns in various parts of the country. In August 1992 an illiterate woman, Habibah, who earned her living by selling bananas in Keude Sungai Raya, Aceh Timur, was punched and beaten by members of an “Orderliness Team” which had come to remove her roadside kiosk. The team, which included military personnel, tied her hands and feet with a nylon rope and carried her to a nearby medical clinic, where she was given an injection to make her sleep before being loaded onto a bus to her home village. A local government official said Habibah’s kiosk and others in the area had to be removed because they .”. could interfere with traffic and ruin the view of the mosque.” He denied that Habibah had been forcibly sedated but a health official confirmed that she had been given an injection to “calm her down” (AI, 1993: 11-17).

Indonesia, where an estimated 2,000 civilians have been deliberately killed by government soldiers since the security forces began counter-insurgency operations against an armed resistance movement in Aceh province in northern Sumatra in 1989.

In the Indonesian province of Aceh, an armed group called Aceh Merdeka has been fighting for independence since the mid-1970s. Since the reemergence of armed conflicts in 1989, its members have committed human rights abuses, including arbitrarily killing civilians they alleged were informers (AI, 1994: 95, 213).

Around 50 alleged supporters of the armed pro-independence group Aceh Merdeka, many of whom were believed to be prisoners of conscience, continued to serve sentences up to life imprisonment imposed after unfair trials in previous years. At least eight other alleged members were tried during the year, including three men convicted of subversion in March and sentences to 19 years’ imprisonment.

No official investigations had been initiated into the extrajudicial executions of at least 2,000 civilians in Aceh between 1989 and early 1993. The fate of possibly hundreds of Acehnese and East Timorese who “disappeared” in previous years remained unknown and those responsible had yet to be brought to justice (AI, 1995a: 161-162).

Grave human rights violations occurred in the context of a civil conflict which flared in Aceh from 1989 to 1993. .... During the military’s counter-insurgency operations, Amnesty International estimated that some 2,000 people, including women and children, were killed either in public executions or in secret killings. Others, including women, were held in unacknowledged detention, tortured, and imprisoned after unfair trials, or have “disappeared.” Amnesty International is not aware of any member of the security forces being held to account for the killings and other violations which occurred during the military’s operations.

In Aceh, women continue to suffer human rights violations as a result of the impunity granted to members of the security forces. Most of the women whose husbands were extra-judicially executed or have “disappeared” have had no official explanation from the government, nor have they received any compensation. In addition to this hardship, the women are continuing to live under intense military surveillance. In April 1995 Amnesty International interviewed two Acehnese women, Djumilah and Maya (not their real names), widowed when their husbands were killed in 1991 after being arrested by the military in Lhokseumawe, Aceh. Djumilah’s husband’s body was returned, but Maya never received her husband’s body. Their stories are illustrative of what happened to many women in Aceh, events which are largely ignored by the Indonesian Government and the international community. The two women have had not official notification of their husband’s deaths, have not seen those responsible brought to justice, and they have not received any compensation.

Djumilah said she watched her husband being arrested by soldiers from the Special Forces Command (Kopassus ) during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in 1991. In the absence of a warrant, she asked why he was being arrested but was only told that the military just needed to take him for a while and that he would probably be brought back the following day. He did not return. Several days later an officer from Kopassus came requesting soap, a towel and cigarette money for her husband in detention. After eight days the Kopassus officer returned again asking for more money for cigarettes. The next day his body was discovered at the village guard post and Djumilah sent a relative to retrieve it. There were bullet holes in his neck and blue marks all over his face. There were also cigarette burns all over his arms.

Maya never saw her husband again after his arrest in 1991. Eight armed Kopassus officers came to arrest him, saying that they were taking him for three days only. When he did not return, her brother went to the local Kopassus command to ask where he was, but the military denied any knowledge of his whereabouts. For two months Maya did not know if he was still alive. She herself was too frightened to go to Kopassus . Maya believes that her husband was taken to a local military detention centre called Rancun, which was well known for being a place where detainees were tortured and frequently killed. About two months after he was taken, a relative of Maya’s said he saw her husband’s body on the side of a road. Maya does not know for sure if this was her husband, but she is sure her husband is dead. Neither Djumilah nor Maya knows why their husbands were arrested.

Since then, Djumilah and Maya have lived in fear. Members of the security forces are suspicious of women without husbands, frequently suspecting that an absent husband may have fled to join the armed resistance. Approximately a year after their husbands were arrested, Maya and Djumilah, along with five other women, were called to the Koramil [subdistrict army command - GJA] office and asked where their husbands were. The other five women were from a nearby village and their husbands had also been arrested and had “disappeared.” Djumilah tried to explain that her husband was asked. When asked how she knew this she explained that someone from Kopassus had brought the body back. “Why didn’t you come and pick him up before he died?”, the officer asked her. Djumilah is now 30 and has three children. She cried as she explained to Amnesty International that life was hard for her now. Maya has six children. She complained of the difficulties that women such as herself have in finding work now, particularly around Lhokseumawe where most of the work available is in heavy industry.

While the level of human rights violations in Aceh has declined dramatically since 1993, Amnesty International is still concerned that the level of military surveillance in the area results in difficulties for international and domestic human rights monitors to accurately record what violations still occur. In addition, even though the large-scale killings and “disappearances” are over, Amnesty International considers that the Indonesian Government still has an obligation to investigate the human rights violations, to bring the perpetrators to justice and to provide compensation to the women like Djumilah and Maya who are still waiting for the government to acknowledge what happened to their husbands (AI, 1995b: 19-20).

Similar to its performances in East Timor, the military’s suppression of an Acehnese rebellion in 1990-1992 was replete with extra-judicial killings, unlawful detention, forced confessions and torture, not withstanding the fact that the Indonesian legal code provides protection from all these abuses.

Several dozen Acehnese have been tried on subversive charges in recent years. Many were denied access to a lawyer until the day of their trial, and then had their lawyer appointed for them by the government. Many complained of torture by the military. Testifying at his own trial in March 1991, Acehnese journalist Adnan Beuransyah recounted the interrogation process:

“My hair and my nose were burned with cigarette butts. I was given electric shocks on my feet, genitals and ears until I fainted. .. I was ordered to sit on a long bench facing the interrogator. I was still blind-folded and the wires for electric shocks were still wound around my toes. If I said anything they didn’t like they turn on the current. This went on until about 8:00 am, meaning I was tortured for about eight continuous hours. .. On the third night I was tortured again ... My body was bruised and bloodied and I had been beaten and kicked so much that I coughed up blood and there was blood in my urine ... It continued like this until I signed the interrogation disposition.”

In 1990-1991, at the height of the most recent Acehnese rebellion, many Acehnese corpses were dumped at night on the sides of the roads, in rivers or in markets. The army denied responsibility but most Acehnese thought differently, believing the corpses were a warning not to support the rebellion. More than 1,000 Acehnese were believed to have died in clashes with security forces or while in military detention. “The level of killing is such,” Asia Watch reported, “that personal vendettas and business feuds can be carried out with impunity, since once a victim is labeled “GPK” [Indonesian shorthand for “security disturber”], no questions are asked.”

Major General Pramono, the top military commander in North Sumatra, explained that many Acehnese had to be detained without trial because “if they all went to the courts, the courts would be too full” (Schwartz, 1994: 247-249).

The government also tacitly admitted to human rights abuses in Aceh, citing poor military training and the ferocity of local rebels as the cause. The International Red Cross was granted access to Acehnese detainees, despite opposition from ABRI quarters.

None of this seemed to have a moderating impact on the military’s strategy, which stuck obstinately to the credo that any threat to the unity of the state must be ruthlessly dealt with. The upper levels of ABRI high command were not blind to the wider diplomatic implications and the negative impact on Indonesia’s overseas image. Either they regarded the security approach as too effective to abandon, or, as some suggested, there was a limit to how much discipline and control the senior ranks could extend to poorly trained and often frightened Javanese soldiery led by ambitious field commanders (Vatikiotis, 1994: 186).

The Aceh Case referred to in this article is the 1989-1993 military operation against the Free Aceh Movement (GAM = Gerakan Aceh Merdeka -- GJA), a liberation movement under the leadership of Hasan Muhammad Tiro. The Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) calls this movement “Trouble Making Movement Against Security/Free Aceh,” or its acronym “GPK/AM” [Gerakan Pengganggu Keamanan/Aceh Merdeka -- GJA) or simply “GPK.” The main “theatre” of the armed conflicts between GAM and ABRI were the three districts of East Aceh, North Aceh and Pidie, with “spillovers” to the surrounding districts, a.o. Central Aceh, Greater Aceh, and the Banda Aceh municipality.

This does not mean, however, that after the crisis was over everything was back to normal. Because of ABRI’s “Red Net Operation” [Operasi Jaring Merah ], until 1996 there was still an atmosphere of conflict in the province, especially in Pidie, North Aceh and East Aceh. The latest fire exchanges between GAM and ABRI took place on December 11, 1994 in Blang Pandak village, Tangse district, Pidie, where some people on both sides were killed, and on February 12, 1995 in Cot Sula and Keunee villages, Geumpang district, Pidie, where some persons were also killed.

The climax of all the worries, restlessness and uncertainty among the local people was in 1990-1992, when ABRI launched a military operation in retaliation against GAM attacks on military posts in some villages and districts. One of those GAM attacks on military posts took place when the ABRI units were carrying out civil action activities in Kuta Makmur district, North Aceh. Other GAM attacks were on the police stations at Batee, Geumpang, Tiro in Pidie, Tanah Pasir, Syamtalira Aron, Kuta Makmur, Meurah Mulia in North Aceh, and an ambush against a military patrol.

In retaliation to those GAM actions, ABRI launched a major military operation, which includes, among others, the burning of houses suspected to be owned by GAM members or sympathizers in Teupin Raya, Pidie, Kembang Tanjung, Tiro, Tangse, Geumpang -- all in Pidie -- and in Matang Geulumpang Dua, Sunuddon and Kuta Makmur in North Aceh.

The implication of Mobil and Arun in human rights violations is in the form of their involvement with military operations in Aceh.

  1. Mobil Oil provided specific facilities in the shape of building and contents for military Post 13. Information gathered from victims of human rights abuses indicated that a number of them were interrogated in Post 13 before being moved to other locations.

  2. Mobil Oil provided heavy equipment such as excavators in order that the military could dig mass graves for its victims at Sentang Hill and Tengkorak (Skull) Hill.

  3. Mobil Oil road was used in order to transport the victims of human rights violations in order to be buried on “Skull” Hill.

  4. Mobil Oil did not take issue with nor take responsibility for the number of its own employee who were kidnapped and disappeared by the military when at work.

  5. PT Arun, some shares of which are owned by Mobil Oil, built Camp Rancong which was used by Kopassus in order to torture and murder victims of human rights abuses.

Sources: Taken from After Ogoniland, Will It Be The Turn Of Aceh?
Notes on Environmental Degradation and Human Rights Violations in Aceh
By George J. Aditjondro.
Indonesian NGOs Declaration on Mobil Oil Activities In Aceh, Indonesia

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March 9, 2001 —— LHOKSEUMAWE, Indonesia

ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM) of the U.S. announced Friday it has temporarily closed its operations in the restive Indonesian province of Aceh for security reasons, according to the Kyodo news agency.

“WE HAVE TEMPORARILY CLOSED THE OPERATIONS, BUT WE WILL open operations after the situation is supportive for us to work,” company spokeswoman Julia Tumengkol told Kyodo.

She didn’t elaborate, but employees at the company in Lhoksukhon in North Aceh Regency said the move is in response to terrorist activities of the separatist Free Aceh Movement, or GAM, which has been waging a guerrilla war against the Indonesian government to set up an independent Islamic state.

GAM Regional Commander for North Aceh Sofyan Daud rejected the accusation, saying the threats “have been conducted by the Indonesian military and police, not us.”

Four other companies in North Aceh were also reported to have closed their operations. The four are PT Arun LNG, fertilizer maker PT Pupuk Iskandar Muda, PT ASEAN Fertilizer and pulp firm PT Kertas Kraft Aceh.

No officials from the four companies have commented on the closings.

Tension in Aceh has been escalating since a joint military-police operation decided early this month to change its approach from “community development” to “law enforcement,” and ending compromises with “armed civilians.”

Lt. Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu, chief of the Army Strategic Reserve Command, has even declared war on GAM rebels, saying they are enemies of the state.

Source: Dow Jones Newswire, Reported in


JAKARTA - Exxon Mobil Indonesia’s decision to halt oil and gas production in the troubled Aceh province has forced other major companies in the area to shut down too. Armed soldiers are now guarding Exxon Mobil Indonesia’s gas fields in northern Aceh. -- REUTERS

PT Arun LNG Co, a major exporter of liquefied natural gas to Japan and South Korea, officially stopped operations on Saturday, the Serambi daily said.

“We have to halt production because the supply of gas as raw material from Exxon Mobil has totally stopped,” firm spokesman Rustam Effendi said.

PT Arun employs more than 1,400 workers, and has another 2,400 contractors.

Exxon Mobil, which operates three oil and gas fields in North Aceh, halted production on Friday over security concerns.

It operates in an area where violence is common between government forces and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) which has been fighting for a separate Islamic state since the mid-1970s.

On Friday, fertilizer plants PT Pupuk Iskandar Muda and PT Asean Aceh Fertilizer also halted production following the interrupted fuel supply from Exxon Mobil.

Paper plant PT Kertas Kraft Aceh is also said to be facing difficulties.

On Saturday, security appeared to have been reinforced at Exxon Mobil, with armed soldiers posted at security posts.

Source: The Straits Times, Singapore, March 11 2001)

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When A-23, one of MOI’s gas wells in the Arun field near Lhok Sukon town exploded in mid 1978, the local people’s wells and rivers were polluted for four months from July till October, as far as 10 km from the exploded well. The 4,000 villagers had to live for months in a war-like situation, because the burning gas sounded like taking-off jet aircrafts, which could be heard until 0.5 km from the disaster site. At night, the burning well looked like a giant torch, which could be seen from the nearby port-town of Lhokseumawe, tens of km away from Lhok Sukon. To extinguish the burning gas, MOI and the Indonesian state oil & gas mining company, Pertamina, had to hire Red Adair, a well-known American specialist in this field. Red Adair and his team worked for weeks injecting mud in the burning well through a diagonally drilled pipeline (Tempo, July 8, 1978: 15-16).

The impact of the transportation of the petro-chemical products on Aceh’s aquatic environment:

bulletIn early 1990, an oil barge spilled 1.5 million litres of kerosene Lhok Seumawe tried to collect what they perceived as “free kerosene” for domestic use, but developed skin irritation from the substance (Kompas , Feb. 10 & 16, 1990);

Also in 1990, barges sailing up and down the Toe River near Lhok Sukon to transport logistic for the MOI project created waves that eroded the villagers’ gardens along the river. Eventually, 700 families in the subdistrict of Tanah Luas complained about the losses of their gardens (Fakta , Feb. 5, 1990: 3 & 10, and July 15, 1990: 22-23);


In early 1993, thousands of fisherfolks on Weh Island across Sabang held a public prayer to ask God to be saved from a similar disaster which had happened a week earlier, when the Maersk Navigator supertanker collided with another ship near the entrance of the Malaka Straits, causing a gigantic crude oil spill in the sea, which destroyed a large amount of marine creatures (Republika , February 2, 1993).

The impact of the Lhok-Seumawe Industrial Zone (ZILS):


In August 1988, a ammonia leak from the Iskandar Muda fertilizer plant caused 602 villagers from the village of Tambon Baroh in the subdistrict of Dewantara, Aceh Besar, to be hospitalized in all the local clinics and the Lhok Seumawe hospital, for breathing problems. In response to that major industrial disaster, the company only provided them with a tin can of milk and an orange per family, while the victims’ health bills had to be covered by the villagers themselves. Unsatisfied with the way the company was treating them, those 602 victims appointed the North Aceh post of the Medan Legal Aid Institute (LBH Medan Pos Aceh Utara) to sue the company. Their case was registered in the Lhok Seumawe district court on September 19, 1988. However, as mentioned earlier, the villagers lost their case. So, they still tried to appeal to the Aceh High Court, but in October 1989, lost their appeal as well. And to add insult to injury, in three consequent years -- 1989, 1990, and 1991 -- similar industrial accidents occurred again, and the villagers became constantly victimized by the leaking toxic gas from the fertilizer plant (Hamzah, n.d.,). That is when they decided to take their case to the Bhopal Tribunal.†


In 1990, about 1,500 inhabitants of three villages in Tanah Luas subdistrict, whose gardens along the river had been eroded by the waves from MOI’s supply barges, complained about a new environmental hazard. This time it was the noise generated from MOI’s Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) plant near their houses (Fakta, Feb. 15, 1993: 3, 10, July 15, 1990: 22-23).


In mid 1991 it was reported that around 60% of fisherfolks in traditional villages in the Lhok Seumawe area were living below the poverty line, and were even close to starvation, as a result of critically low catches over the previous three years. They blamed the decline of their catch on the discharge of pollutants from the ZILS. Similarly, chemical waste from the MOI refinery at Arun was held responsible for the devastation during 1991 of dozens of hectares of shrimp and fish ponds owned by 240 farmers, and the local government issued an order prohibiting MOI from discharging material into public drainage channels. 72 farmers from a village in Lhok Sukon subsequently sued MOI and Pertamina for the damages. However, their case in the district court in Lhok Sukon in September 1992 was defeated, and the matter was referred for appeal to the Supreme Court (Kell, 1995: 17).


In December 1991, 88 people from two villages close to the Iskandar Muda fertilizer plant received treatment following a leak of ammonia gas. A similar event occurred only six months previously, and the head of one of the affected villages said that such incidents happened almost every year (Kell, 1995: 17-18).


Ten months after the latest incident, on behalf of 121 concerned families from one of the villages, the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) and the Indonesian Environmental Forum (WALHI) made representations at the national and international levels regarding the long term effects in the health of the surrounding population of four gas leaks from the ZILS two fertilizer plants which occurred between early 1988 and December 1991. People living near these two factories had been unable to use their wells because of contaminations by airborne sediments, and inadequate processing of factory waste has let to the death of the locally owned stocks of fish and shrimp (Kell, 1995: 18).


Less than a year after the fourth of these accidents, an underground pipeline carrying waste from the Iskandar Muda refinery to sea fractured at its seaward end, discharging viscous yellow liquid onto the shore and into the surrounding waters. The spillage endangered residents living nearby, whose alarm was exacerbated by the fact that they had been unaware that this toxic waste had been channeled under the ground so close to their homes (Kell, 1995: 18).


Three months later, in late November 1992, another underground pipeline, carrying crude gas from MOI’s Arun gas field to the LNG refinery at Blang Lancang in the ZILS, burst and caught fire at the point at which it passed the village of Blang Klieng. This is in the subdistrict of Kuta Makmur, North Aceh district, 35 km from Lhokseumawe. A giant explosion followed by a 100 m high fire ended a peaceful night on 11:00 mid night. Three houses were ravaged by the fire, five villagers suffered from burn wounds, livestock were killed and crops were destroyed (Fakta , Feb. 1, 1993: 22; Kell, 1995: 18-19).


In mid July 1994, a pipeline carrying natural gas from MOI’s Arun gas field to PT Arun LNG Company’s plant in the ZILS, leaked again at a point near Lhok Sukon, 30 Km from the LNG refinery. Fortunately, this time no major explosion or fire occurred (Surabaya Post , July 12, 1994).†


Then, later in that month, ammonia burst for 15 minutes from a valve in the Iskandar Muda fertilizer plant, causing five villagers in Krueng Geukeuh, a small town 12 Km from the plant, to faint, and about 50 other villagers had problems breathing. The company only compensated the victims of its ammonia leak with powdered milk, oranges, and some other nutritious food (Kompas , July 27, 1994).


In the mean time, 23 tons of toxic waste has been accumulated from MOI’s LNG and LPG plants. This waste consisted of mercury absorbed in activated carbon. For sixteen years this toxic waste has been stored in underground containers near the MOI plant near the mercury absorbed in activated carbon. This toxic waste has been stored during the last 17 years in underground containers near the MOI plant near the coast.

But since 1994, the underground storage place had been filled up, so the new waste -- generated at a rate of one ton per year -- was kept in large containers in the Arun gas field, 31 km from the MOI LNG plant. In Oct. 1995, twenty tons of that toxic waste was going to be shipped from Lhokseumawe to Cileungsi, Bogor, West Java, to be processed there. Three more tons of that toxic waste was going to be shipped at the end of this year (Acehnet , Nov. 21, 1995). So, based on the legacy of mercury pollution in Japan as well as in the Jakarta Bay, one can say that ZILS is silently harboring a very detrimental “ecological time bomb.”

Source: Taken from After Ogoniland, Will It Be The Turn Of Aceh?
Notes on Environmental Degradation and Human Rights Violations in Aceh by George J. Aditjondro


May 2001

There are strong reasons to believe that the armed forces decision to urge the Wahid cabinet to agree to the launching of a “limited military operation” in Aceh is closely related to pressure from ExxonMobil, the US company which produces natural gas from the Arun gas field in Aceh.

Exxon/Mobil’s announcement that it was suspending operations in Aceh because of the security situation came within hours of the announcement in Jakarta on 12 March that the Wahid cabinet had formally branded GAM as a “separatist movement”, giving the armed forces the go-ahead to carry out these new military operations. Exxon/Mobil is by far Indonesia’s largest producer of LNG and accounts for 30 percent of Indonesia’s foreign exchange earnings from the oil and gas sector. There is no doubt that the suspension of LNG exports is a serious setback for the Indonesian economy at a time of continuing economic crisis and a foreign debt of $140bn and that it provided the military with a powerful argument in favor of launching these operations, reversing the policy favored by President Wahid to solve the conflict in Aceh by means of negotiations with GAM. The military have also been able, by means of this coup de grace, to re-establish its leading role in security operations in Aceh which, since early 2000, have been under the overall command of the Indonesian police force.

For several weeks prior to the switch in policy, senior generals were speaking very publicly about the fact that elite troops from Kostrad and other sections of the armed forces were receiving special training in anti-guerrilla combat, street combat and combat in residential areas, in readiness for dispatch to Aceh so it is clear that preparations have been underway for some time.

The police-led Operasi Cinta Meunasah (love-the-mosque operation) in which territorial troops and non-organic reinforcements from outside Aceh were involved has now been replaced by an operation under military command. The use of the term “limited” relates to the intention to concentrate these new security operations in certain parts of Aceh, primarily in North Aceh where ExxonMobil is based, in order to restore conditions under which the US company will be able to resume operations.

The US government is certainly closely following the fortunes of one of the country’s foremost oil companies. With the coming to power of the Bush Administration, the question must be raised of the extent to which Exxon/Mobil’s announced suspension of operations and the launching of the new military operations are the result of top-level pressure on Jakarta from Washington. George W. Bush has extensive interests in oil and obtained substantial funds from the oil industry for his presidential campaign and no one doubts that he would step in without hesitation to protect the interests of such a company.

Reports from Jakarta today focus heavily on the number of troops that have been dispatched to Aceh specifically for the purpose of providing ExxonMobil with security protection. But it is not as though this is anything new. The company has for years been given security protection by the Indonesian army. A recent investigation by the human rights organization, Kontras-Aceh, concluded that the company spends Rp 5 billion a month ($500,000) for this special service. Their conclusion was based on the number of troops deployed to protect the company times the cost per day (Rp 40,000) for the upkeep of each soldier.

On Friday, Minister- Coordinator for Political, Social and Security Affairs General (retired) Bambang Susilo Yudhoyono, was quoted as saying that the military was doing its best to defend the Exxon gas fields. “This is the biggest security deployment in Indonesia ever to defend a vital installation,” he said, according to AP. According to Antara, the security minister also wondered why the company which is now enjoying maximum protection is still not willing to resume its operations.

He refused to say whether Indonesia had been under pressure from the US to step up military protection for the company. “It would be premature for me to say that there has been any such pressure.” Expressing what sounded like a sense of exasperation with the demands of ExxonMobil, Bambang Susilo was quoted by Antara as saying: “I want to know what exactly it is that ExxonMobil really wants and to avoid a situation in which the armed forces are blamed.”

For people living in the vicinity of the company, the presence of these troops has a direct bearing on the level of human rights abuses, some of which are known to have been perpetrated within the grounds of the company. Moreover, while Jakarta regards the company as such a major factor in providing foreign exchange and revenue for the Indonesian state, the economic benefits for the local people are virtually zero.

Antara reported on Saturday that the TNI has sent three battalions and one cavalry company to protect the posts, the clusters, the gas fields and facilities of the company but TNI spokesman Vice Air Marshal Graito Usodo later sought to deny that these were new reinforcements, claiming that the troops had been there for the past two months and that only one extra battalion of special troops has been sent to defend the company.

The confusion surrounding the latest deployment of troops to defend the company suggests that the TNI wants to conceal the fact that it is conducting these new operations specifically at the behest of the US-based company. This could make the armed forces appear to be acting at the beck and call of a foreign power and damage their credentials as a force that works solely in the national interest.

For the people of Aceh, the decision to intensify the level of military operations in Aceh means one thing only, a heightened level of killings, disappearances and abuses that have been their lot since the late 1980s.

It is important to know the extent to which ExxonMobil and the Bush administration have been instrumental in the decision to deploy specially trained troops in order to further intensify the level of military operations. Even at their present level, dozens of lives are being lost every week and thousands of people are fleeing their homes as troops loot and burn villages with impunity.

An embargo on the sale of arms to Indonesia is still in place in the US which the Bush administration is unable to reverse because it cannot act against the wishes and resolutions of Congress. It would be an irony indeed if, with such an embargo in force, Washington is nevertheless able to collude with the Indonesian armed forces in its determination to impose a military solution on the people of Aceh.

Source: Carmel Budiardjo, TAPOL

Statement on ExxonMobil’s Responsibility for Atrocities in Aceh

Made at the Conference on Corporate Accountability in Dallas, Texas, May 27-30, 2001.

Thank you for this opportunity to address this meeting. I have come a long distance to get here.

I am Radhi Darmansyah, the Secretary General of FARMIDIA, the Aceh Student Front for Reform. My organization is one of many which is doing humanitarian and human rights work under terrifying conditions in Aceh, Indonesia. Most similar international organizations have fled. The Indonesian military and police have threatened and beaten journalists. They have killed and tortured activists. Innocent inhabitants of Aceh have been and are continuing to be murdered, tortured, and terrorized by the Indonesian armed forces, which ExxonMobil hires to provide security for its facilities. I am here to ask for your help to stop the activities of a corporation, which is helping the Indonesian military murder its citizens. By hiring the Indonesian military and police, knowing that those forces are deeply implicated in serious and widespread human rights abuses, ExxonMobil is responsible.

Until ExxonMobil take steps to address the legitimate concerns of ordinary civilians in Aceh for their own security, we will be joining our brothers and sisters worldwide in their campaign to boycott ExxonMobil.

Until they become a responsible corporate actor, ExxonMobil will be revealed to be the renegade it is, not only in its self-serving publicity of environmental impacts of its business activities, but also in its responsibility for human rights violations by its agents in Aceh.

I am here to make a moral and also a financial argument for ExxonMobil to take steps to ensure its practices do not result in human rights abuses. I understand that it is one of the founding principles of Western ethics that an individual is responsible for his or her actions. Since the Founding Father of western ethics, Plato, wrote his most important work, the Republic, those principles have recognized also that a person who gives a madman a knife is responsible for the crimes committed by that madman.

I would like to let you know today: knife-wielding madmen are running wild in Aceh today. They are murdering my brothers and sisters. They are raping and keeping schoolgirls as sexual slaves. They are stationed on ExxonMobil facilities, hired by ExxonMobil, provided with equipment and barracks by ExxonMobil.

These madmen are Indonesian soldiers - widely recognized by local and international human rights organizations, by the US Congress, and by the local inhabitants of Aceh, as being responsible for gross human rights abuses committed against the villagers of Aceh and human rights defenders there.

Meanwhile ExxonMobil has profited greatly from the oil and gas in my homeland, while it has caused the forced relocation of local inhabitants of its well sites, polluted the local fisheries and wells, and been responsible for industrial accidents resulting in widespread pollution with as yet untold consequences.

I appeal to the ideas of fundamental fairness and justice. It is not right for any corporation, especially the largest one in the world and one that is based in the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” to commit these acts which would be condemned here in the United States. How can ExxonMobil help the corrupt and brutal Indonesian security forces to commit atrocities, to steal from the local inhabitants, and remain silent?

I want you all to imagine, please, the predictable results of having a police chief in Dallas, Texas, for instance, who praises Hitler. The Chief of Police of Aceh, Chaerul R Rasyidi does. He is responsible for many murders. Not even after well over 50 unarmed civilians were murdered on their way to a peaceful demonstration has this man been brought to trial. Would a similar police chief be acceptable here in Dallas? Last year, one thousand civilians were killed by security forces in Aceh alone. Aceh has a population of about 4.1 million. If civilians here in Dallas, Texas, were murdered at the same rate by the police and military of the United States, about 8,000 people in Dallas would no longer be here. That’s about 22 people a day!

ExxonMobil has been silent about the fact that the armed insurgents are not the main source of their security risks. The Indonesian military and police stationed at its facilities are. These two forces are more like two rival gangs. Over 75% of their budget is derived from their legal and illegal business ventures. These include widespread extortion, prostitution and drug running. Some of them even sell weapons to the insurgents. These armed gangs engineer violence in Aceh in order to provide the “solution.” They are professional extortionists. ExxonMobil and the US Government (through its embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia) are well aware of this situation. Yet they have not made any public statements about it. What US interests are being protected by this silence? Certainly no American values are being upheld by this silent complicity.

ExxonMobil has benefited much from its relationship with the Suharto dictatorship and from the military, which it continues to support. ExxonMobil has made $40 billion dollars in the last decades in Aceh alone. Every year it makes approximately $2 billion dollars. Most of my homeland’s brothers and sisters are poor.

But the world is changing…!

Although twelve years ago, the international community may not have recognized that corporations and international financial institutions have impacts on and therefore responsibilities for human rights abuses committed by their agents and partners in the business community. Today much has changed. I want to remind all of you that the downfall of Suharto in May of 1998 was triggered by the massive demonstrations against the International Monetary Fund. Under Suharto, Indonesians had suffered a model of imposed development implemented by Suharto’s brutal dictatorship. Now they demanded that development imposed by Suharto, the IMF and the World Bank for thirty-two years be ended. Those demonstrations, in 1998, were echoed in Seattle and Quebec, calling for powerful economic actors and politicians to wake up! Listen to the people!

You heard our call in May of 1998 and we heard yours in Seattle. But our leaders are only beginning to hear. And powerful corporations are looking backwards to imposed development. Instead of forward to democracy.

At the height of military operations in the 1990s, launched under pretext of destroying a small insurgency, the military budget for “development” was quadrupled in Aceh. I am here to say that the development of the Acehnese must be carried out by the Acehnese. That there can be no development without democracy. And that until the thugs that pretend to defend Indonesia by killing Indonesians are no longer supported by the most powerful corporation in the world, we, in Aceh, will continue to struggle for democracy and democracy will continue to be the dream of Acehnese.

Yet ExxonMobil continues to talk about development. We urge them to explain how their operations have benefited in “developing” the peoples of Aceh while tens of thousands of Acehnese civilians have been murdered by military operations financed in large part by its business activities. If this is “development”, let’s skip the niceties. Please send us gravestones and coffins.

In expensive advertisement in the New York Times, ExxonMobil has made grand statements in support of “free trade.” Lee R. Raymond, the CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation says he supports free trade. About a month ago he spoke about “the importance and value of international investment by emphasizing the significance of the socially beneficial activities carried out by the oil industry in its international operations.” He encouraged other businesses to do the same! God help us! ExxonMobil’s free trade hides the prison it has made of my home, Aceh.

ExxonMobil speaks of freedom, while its agents terrorize common civilians. It speaks about opportunity, while 40% of the fisherfolk near its operations are impoverished because of pollution resulting in dwindling fisheries.

But the world has changed…!

A recent Alabama jury verdict shows that Americans are not standing for corporate crime. In its decision, the jury found that ExxonMobil had conspired to cheat the state of Alabama out of oil royalties. They levied punitive damages of $3.4 billion dollars because “Exxon was aware it was shortchanging the state but thought it had enough muscle to get away with it.” Imagine what ExxonMobil has been getting away with in Aceh, where courts are corrupt and the military provides ExxonMobil with muscle.

The landscape for investors in the oil and gas sector has changed much since 1968 when ExxonMobil entered into an agreement with Suharto’s state oil company. Since then, many lawsuits recognized that corporations do have a legal responsibility for the crimes from which they knowingly benefit. There have been lawsuits, as yet unsettled, accusing multinational oil and gas companies such as Shell, Chevron, and Unocal of complicity with human rights abuses of their agents abroad.

International public awareness of what peoples in the South face when large extractive projects are launched in their homelands is growing. Victims exist. The law is unsettled. But a worldwide movement for democracy and for accountability is growing. Corporations today have more power than many nations. With power comes responsibility. ExxonMobil made a demand in March of this year. It told the Indonesian government that it would shut operations until security is restored in Aceh. If it can make that demand, why not demand that the troops it hires not commit serious and widespread human rights violations? With power comes responsibility. ExxonMobil must be held accountable.

You and I, my brothers and sisters, must demand that ExxonMobil along with its military and police in Aceh, be brought to justice.

May peace be with you. Thank you.

Additional information on ExxonMobil and Aceh can be found at


Source and more information: Down to Earth August 2001.

The US-based oil giant Exxon Mobil is being challenged in an American court over its implication in human rights abuses committed by Indonesian troops in the war-torn territory of Aceh.

The lawsuit launched against Exxon Mobil on June 20th argues that the company must be held accountable for its part in the Indonesian military’s reign of terror in Aceh, during which massacres, incidents of torture, murder, rape and “disappearances” have been carried out with impunity. Exxon - which closed down its lucrative natural gas operations in March this year due to security concerns - pays Indonesian security forces to guard its facilities. The company has been accused of providing the military with buildings used for torturing local people suspected of involvement in the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and excavators to dig mass graves for the victims of military violence.

The lawsuit says the company bought military equipment for security forces assigned to the project and paid mercenaries to provide advice, training, intelligence and equipment in the gas project area. It says the Indonesian security forces have used company funds for military operations designed to crush dissent in Aceh and to increase capacity “to engage in repressive tactics against Acehnese separatists.”

The suit was filed in Columbia district court, USA, by the Washington-based organization, International Labor Rights Fund. The action is on behalf of eleven unnamed villagers from Aceh who suffered directly from the actions of Indonesian security forces working for Exxon Mobil and/or gas processor PT Arun. The incidents described by the plaintiffs mostly took place this or last year. One villager was accosted by troops assigned to Exxon’s 113 Unit in January this year, while riding his bicycle cart to the local market to sell vegetables. The soldiers shot him in the wrist, threw a hand grenade at him and then left him for dead. The man survived, with the loss of his right hand and left eye and with several severe wounds. Another man was blindfolded and tortured over a period of three months in 2000 at the notorious “Camp Rancong” - a torture site exposed by Indonesian organizations in 1998, but evidently still in use at least as late as last year. According to the suit, after his 3-month ordeal, this man was taken outside the building and shown a pit where there was a large pile of human heads. The soldiers threatened to add his head to the pile, but he was eventually released. Shortly afterwards soldiers came and burned down his house. In late 2000, a woman plaintiff, who was pregnant at the time, was beaten and sexually assaulted by an Indonesian soldier assigned to Exxon’s 113 Unit. The solider had forced his way into her house and threatened to kill the woman and her unborn child. Two of the other plaintiffs’ husbands were murdered by troops and another has been “disappeared”, presumed murdered.

For full text see

Exxon Mobil denies it is responsible for the behavior of the soldiers guarding its facilities. It says the company “condemns the violation of human rights in any form” and that it “has actively expressed these views to the President of Indonesia.”

Exxon’s Indonesian subsidiary, Exxon Mobil Oil Indonesia (EMOI) is 100% owned by Exxon Mobil. PT Arun, which operates the gas processing plant, is 35% owned by Exxon Mobil, 55% by state-owned oil and gas company, Pertamina, and 10% by Japan Indonesia LNG Company Ltd.

Mobil Oil Indonesia, as the company was then called, started operating the Arun gas fields in 1968. According to the lawsuit, the exclusive rights to explore for and produce gas in the area were agreed by the Suharto regime in exchange for providing the Suharto family with “blank shares” in Mobil Oil Indonesia “as well as other forms of direct and indirect payment.”

Exxon Mobil, now the world’s biggest oil company, reported the world’s largest corporate profits in the year 2000 and was listed by Fortune magazine as the largest publicly held American corporation. The company reported around $210 billion in profits in the year 2000.


The lawsuit comes at a crucial time for Exxon Mobil as it prepares to reopen its gas operations in Aceh, suspended since March 9th. In May, pipelines at the site were breached and set on fire on two occasions and the company declined to commit itself to restarting activities. The Indonesian government has put the company under intense pressure to reopen the fields in an attempt to shore up faltering business confidence in Indonesia, as well as to minimize its financial losses. In June, Pertamina president, Baihaki Hakim, said he would ask Exxon Mobil’s headquarters to replace its Indonesian subsidiary’s leadership if the company refused to resume operations. At the time of writing, the latest (Pertamina) estimate for reopening the operations of July 4th had passed, with no official announcement from the company. Exxon Mobil teams were only reported to have carried out maintenance work at the Aceh site.

In June it was reported by the Jakarta Post that over 2,200 military personnel were expected to be deployed along the 80 km gas production and distribution line in Lhoksukon, East Aceh, to support the resumed operations.


Problems at Aceh do not appear to have put Exxon Mobil off other projects. The company recently reported a major oil find at its Cepu project in Java, estimated at 250 million barrels. Negotiations are underway with state-owned Pertamina to decide on shareholdings. Production is expected to start at 25,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2003 increasing to up to 100,000 bpd by 2004.

The company also holds a 70% interest in the D-Alpha gas field in Natuna, Riau province. Recoverable reserves are estimated at 46 trillion cubic feet. The project has been on hold since the onset of the economic crisis in 1997, but negotiations are now underway to revive a deal to pipe the gas to Thailand.

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