PTT Exploration Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Oil Spill

  • Montara spill ruined Indonesian farmers’ livelihoods: lawyers
  • Company says action misguided as no spilled oil reached shore

PTT Exploration & Production Pcl, Thailand’s biggest publicly listed oil and natural gas explorer, is facing a more than A$200 million ($152 million) class action lawsuit from 13,000 Indonesian seaweed farmers who claim a 2009 oil spill devastated their livelihoods. The company labeled the claim misguided.

“The operator of the oil rig has a serious case to answer for cutting corners that endangered lives, the environment and the livelihoods of thousands of seaweed farmers” in Indonesia’s Nusa Tenggara Timur province, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers said in the statement.

The suit is being filed on Wednesday in Federal Court in Sydney against PTT Exploration’s Australian arm, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers said in an e-mailed statement. It claims that after an explosion in August 2009, the company’s Montara rig off Australia’s northwest coast spewed 300,000 liters (79,000 gallons) of oil a day into the Timor Sea for 70 days before being capped.

PTTEP Australasia in August 2012 pleaded guilty to four charges laid by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority and accepted fines totaling A$510,000 by the Darwin Magistrates Court for its responsibility in the incident.

“PTTEP Australasia maintains its position, based on extensive independent scientific research overseen by the Australian government, that no oil from Montara reached the shores of Indonesia or Australia and that no long-term damage was done to the Timor Sea environment,” the company said in an emailed statement Wednesday. It called the class action lawsuit “misguided.”

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