Indonesia sues PNG for K105m over storage of ‘illegal’ oil shipments

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Conservation and Environment Protection Authority
PNG's Conservation and Environment Protection Authority ... Jakarta planning a ban on any oil shipments through Indonesian waters to or from PNG. Image: CEPA logo

By Melisha Yafoi in Port Moresby

The Indonesian government has filed a K105.6 million (US$30 million) writ against Papua New Guinea, naming two senior officials as persons of interest toward the illegal shipments of hazardous materials.

The two officials named are acting managing director for Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) Gunther Joku and State Solicitor Daniel Rolpagarea.

Republic of Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry-Basel Protocol’s Department’s Chief Compliance Officer Siti Muhammad told the Post-Courier they had been given the cold shoulder by the PNG government over the issue.

Last week the Indonesian government, in a letter addressed to the CEPA’s’s acting managing director Gunther Joku demanded that the PNG government pay a fine of K105.6 million (US$30 million) in 14 days for the management and storage of six illegal oil shipments.

Muhammad said that by 1 August 2022 PNG would be required to seek written approval from Indonesia Environment prior to the loading of any oil-related products, including but not limited to HS 1511 – Palm Oil HS 2710 – Crude Oil.

“We have advised Sime Darby (Malaysia) of the new process required effective August 1 2022 toward any oil palm shipments which transit through our waters and Indonesia Customs is advising PNG customs as such,” she said.

“It is my intent to ensure that any shipments coming from Papua New Guinea are monitored and checked for correct information due to the ongoing mislabeling issues.

Filed a writ
“We have filed a writ against the State of Papua New Guinea, naming Mr Gunther Joku and Mr Daniel Rolpagarea as persons of interest toward the illegal shipments of Hazardous Materials from Papua New Guinea and they will be advised in due course and requested to attend the hearing in Jakarta.”

Muhammad said they were currently planning a ban on any oil shipments through Indonesian waters either to or from PNG until such a time they had assurance that the products which were being claimed, were indeed what were being shipped.

This includes oil palm and crude oil.

“The waters of Indonesia are critical to the Asia-Pacific region and we acknowledge that on the previous instance of PNG causing a spill from an illegal shipment, no recognition or rectification was provided,” Muhammad said.

“Our waters provide transit for fuel to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. Closing our waters due to an issue from Papua New Guinea will see the entire Indo-Pacific shut down and provide an unthinkable security risk to the region.

“Many countries will suffer if our waterways are blocked due to this occurrence. Indonesia will not take such risks purely because Papua New Guinea lacks the interest to implement programs which she has signed to.”

Melisha Yafoi is a PNG Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.

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