Friday, November 6, 2009

Timor Leste wants Oz to pay for Montara Project

Friday, 06 November, 2009, 05:30 GMT (Upstream Online)

Timor Leste is demanding compensation from the Australian government for the environmental damage due from an oil leak at Thai PTTEP’s Montara project.

East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta says the spill is the responsibility of the Australian Government and the Thai company that owns the platform.

Ramos-Horta is calling for Australian environmental groups to help assess if the spill has caused any damage to Timor Leste's maritime area and says he will seek compensation for any negative effects to his country's environment, according to a ABC news report.

PTTEP had advised about 400 barrels per day of oil were spilled into the Timor Sea, but the Australian Department of Resources, Energy & Tourism released a far higher estimate of 2000 bpd.

Several Indonesian fishermen have told ABC Radio their livelihoods have been seriously affected by the spill.

They have spoken of a slick appearing at their fishing grounds and some of them have had no catch as a result. Some have had to borrow money to get by.

The Australian Government says only small patches of "weathered oil" have gone into Indonesia's economic zone, and that was about 100 kilometres from Roti.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett would not comment directly today on reports of impacts in Indonesian waters.

But he did say more work had started to determine the effects of the spill.

"As soon as we receive the results from that work we will make them publicly available, as we did with the work done originally at my insistence," he told ABC News.

"I have always said that this is a very serious matter and we have treated it seriously.

"We will make sure that every amount of relevant information in respect of environmental impacts is made available. If we think there's a necessity for more information and for more work to be done, we will get it done."

The confirmed death toll of birds affected by the spill is now at 19 but Mr Garrett would not speculate on whether he thought the seemingly low death toll would increase by much.

"I hope of course ... that there's minimal impact. So I'm not going to start speculating on whether there'll be increases and what kind of increases there may or may not be," he said.

"We will make sure that we will continue to do the work that we undertook in the first instance as a consequence of this event."

The Federal government of Australia has launched an inquiry into the Montara leak.

The results are due next April.

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