Bulker Probably Caused Fatal Oil Spill in Indonesia

Panama-flagged bulk carrier Ever Judger is likely to have caused the rupture of the undersea pipe which resulted in the massive oil spill in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, on March 31.

Based on the initial findings of an investigation launched by the Indonesian Navy’s hydrographic office, before the incident, the 82,000 dwt bulk carrier was the only vessel in the waters of Balikpapan Bay, according to the vessel’s AIS data.


Specifically, Ever Judger’s anchor caused the rupture of the undersea pipe, Rear-Admiral Harjo Susmoro from the navy’s oceanography and hydrography center was cited as saying by Indonesian news portal Balikpapan Pos. The anchor is believed to have dragged the pipe, belonging to Indonesia’s state oil company Pertamina, some 300 feet from its original position. When entering this Indonesian area with undersea pipes, ships are not allowed to drop anchors.


However, an investigation is yet to confirm whether that was the case, as lab tests need to confirm whether the substance on the anchor matches the spilled oil.


The leakage spread at least 26 kilometers and coated large areas of the coast in thick black sludge, data from Greenpeace shows.


The spill and related fire in the bay that sent a thick cloud of smoke into the air claimed the lives of five people and saw the country declare a state of emergency.


According to a report from Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the incident affected around 34 hectares Mangrove ecosystem and caused health problems to the people in the area.


Pertamina has since been engaged with local authorities on containing the spill.