Indonesia seeks $2B compensation for Thai firm's oil spill

The Indonesian government is seeking $2 billion in compensation from Thailand's state oil company and its Australian unit for an oil spill in the Timor Sea nearly eight years ago, an official said Friday.

Deputy Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs Arif Havas Oegroseno said the lawsuit was registered Wednesday at the Central Jakarta District Court against Petroleum Authority of Thailand Public Co. and its related companies PTTEP Australasia and Petroleum Authority of Thailand Exploration and Production Public Co. Ltd.

More than 400 barrels of oil a day flowed from the Montara well into the Timor Sea and stained the coasts of Indonesia and East Timor before mud pumped through a relief well shut off the deep-water spigot 11 weeks later.

Oegroseno described the civil lawsuit as "an effort to seek justice."

He told a news conference that the demand for compensation includes $1.725 billion for environmental damage and $330 million for restoration work. He added that the environmental damage included 1,200 hectares (2,965 acres) of mangroves, 1,400 hectares (3,460 acres) of seagrass and 700 hectares (1,730 acres) of corals.

An independent review in Australia in 2011 blamed PTTEP and a lax regulator for the oil leak. The Montara spill occurred because the underwater cement barrier designed to prevent oil blowouts failed.

Thousands of dead fish and clumps of oil were found drifting near Indonesia's coastline more than two months after the accident, said to be the worst oil spill in the history of Australia's offshore petroleum industry.