Indonesia seeks compensation over Timor Sea oil spill

JAKARTA Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:28am EDT

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JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia will seek compensation from Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) over an oil spill in the Timor Sea last year, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Thursday.

The West Atlas rig -- located off the Western Australian coast and operated by PTTEP Australasia, a unit of PTTEP -- poured oil into Indonesian and Australian waters for over two months after springing a leak in August last year.

Yudhoyono told his cabinet on Thursday he would soon read a report from the transport ministry on the environmental disaster.

"Of course, I will fulfill our obligations to finalize this issue, and put forward a claim to the company that caused this oil spill, while ensuring continued good diplomatic relations with both the government of Australia and the government of Thailand," he said.

He did not say how much compensation Indonesia would seek, but Transport Minister Freddy Numberi told reporters that the spill had caused Indonesia direct losses of 500 billion rupiah ($55.16 million).

The president said the area surrounding Indonesia's southernmost island, Rote Island, had been affected by the spill and deserved "decent compensation."

"What is clear is that the company must give something to take responsibility for that incident," he said.

PTTEP's chief executive, Anon Sirisaengtaksin, told Reuters the company was not aware of the call for compensation.

"I have no opinion about this," he said.

(Reporting by Muklis Ali in Jakarta and Ploy Ten Kate in Bangkok; Writing by Sunanda Creagh; Editing by Neil Chatterjee)

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