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Articles: BP Liquefied Natural Gas & West Papua

BP West Papua: 3 Articles

1. Upstream: 1 April 2008: Groups warn of Tangguh political fallout
2. Upstream: 4 April 2008: BP faces a Tangguh backlash
3. South China Morning Post: 7 April 2008: Fears gas project will fuel tensions in Papua

Groups warn of Tangguh political fallout

http://www.upstreamonline.com/live/article151503.ece

1 April 2008

By Upstream staff

Human rights groups have warned UK-based supermajor BP that the $6 billion Tangguh liquefied natural gas project in West Papua, risks becoming embroiled in the province's volatile politics.

More than 30 groups have signed a letter to BP supreme Tony Hayward calling for an independent watchdog body to monitor BP's activities in the province amid a reported crackdown on pro-independence protestors in the Indonesian province.

The letter warned of reports of increased activity by the Indonesian military in the vicinity of the project, saying this could lead to conflict with the local Papuan communities.

The western half of the island of New Guinea was annexed by Indonesia in 1969 to become the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua. The annexation is opposed by many indigenous Papuans. A number of Papuans were reportedly arrested last month for protesting a ban on symbols of Papuan autonomy, including the Morning Star flag.

The organisations claimed in the letter that many Papuans saw BP as collaborating with the Indonesia authorities to exploit West Papua's natural resources.

The letter criticised BP for not extending the mandate of the Tangguh Independent Advisory Panel, which consulted with local communities over the project and was chaired by former US senator George Michael. However it also said the panel was not independent as it had been set up by BP.

The letter also reportedly listed a number of other concerns related to the social and environmental impact of the project.

BP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

***

BP faces a Tangguh backlash

Upstream, 4 April 2008

A GROUP of human rights organisations has written to UK supermajor BP, warning that its $6 billion Tangguh liquefied natural gas project is a potential source of instability in an already troubled region of Indonesia, writes Amanda Battersby.

The groups and some con­cerned individuals said in an open letter to BP chief executive Tony Hayward there is a "pressing need" for an inde­pendent inspection of the project because of reports of increased activity by the Indonesian military, the Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI), in the vicinity.

However, the signatories conceded that BP is aware that "truly independent" monitoring is currently impossible because of the restrictions on journalists and international human rights groups operating in West Papua province.

In their letter, organisations including Tapol --- the Indone­sia Human Rights Campaign -- point out that Tangguh, which aims to export its first cargo early next year, is regarded by some Papuans as an obstacle to the realisation of their wider political aspirations. "BP is seen by them as a collaborator with Jakarta's exploitation of West Papua's natural resources," the letter claimed.

A tribal leader recently wrote to BP complaining about military harassment because of his political activities and work to protect the local environment.

"The TNI's past record suggests that it is likely to adopt a highly intimidatory approach, giving rise to possible conflicts with the local and wider Papuan community," Tapol said.

The organisations' missive was prompted by BP's decision not to extend the mandate of the Tangguh Independent Advisory Panel beyond 2009. The letter was sent in the wake of arrests in March of Papuans peacefully protesting against bans on symbols such as the Papuan Morning Star flag.

If convicted, they could face prison sentences of up to 20 years, according to Tapol.

The open letter also expressed concern about the potential social and environmental impacts of the liquefaction project. The major environmental issues are the increase shipping in the area and the handling of carbon dioxide emissions.

"About 12.5% of the Tangguh gas reservoir consists of CO2, which will be released into the atmosphere unless it can be captured. To our knowledge, no decision has yet been made on the appropriate disposal mechanism," it said.

BP had earlier said it was considering facilities for carbon dioxide reinjection as part of the Tangguh project.

***

South China Morning Post

Monday, April 7, 2008

Fears gas project will fuel tensions in Papua

Fabio Scarpello in Jakarta

A coalition of 30 international human rights organisations has warned that a new US$6 billion gas project could worsen the security situation in Papua, the troubled Indonesian region that has recently experienced a rise in tensions.

The Tangguh liquefied natural gas project in Bintuni Bay is spearheaded by BP, which owns more than 37 per cent of the operations and claims to have secured contracts with China, South Korea and the US. The fields contain 407 billion cubic metres of gas and should be operational later this year.

In a letter to BP chief executive Tony Hayward, the coalition said that the operation was likely to lead to an increase in the militarisation of the region and abuses against the local population. "The Indonesian military's past record suggests that it is likely to adopt a highly intimidatory approach, giving rise to possible conflicts with the local and wider Papuan community," the coalition said.

Although there is no firm, independent evidence of an increased military presence, local sources have said that there has been a bigger presence of the Kopassus special forces group - troops notorious for a string of charges over gross human rights violations, Brimob police special operations personnel (also known for violations and killings), intelligence agents and other non-uniformed security forces personnel.

In November 2006, LP3BH, an NGO based in Manokwari that provides human rights training for BP, pointed out that the administrative changes in Bintuni Bay that followed the Tangguh project, would result in a new military command.

The coalition's letter also pointed out that the project is regarded by some Papuans as an obstacle to their political aspirations, and that BP is seen as a collaborator in Jakarta's exploitation of Papua's natural resources. Papua is among Indonesia's richest soils, but the standard of living of the local population remains among the lowest in the archipelago.

The coalition initiative was prompted by BP's decision not to extend the mandate of the Tangguh Independent Advisory Panel, a body set up by BP, chaired by former US senator George Mitchell, and formerly made adviser on non-commercial aspects of the project.

According to the coalition, "the external scrutiny of Tangguh's political, economic, social and environmental impact is essential throughout the duration of the project".

BP former communications officer Victor Tjahjadi said that "he was no longer in the capacity to answer as he has been moved to another department", and the current officer, Desi Unijaya, failed to answer the phone for two days.

The letter comes at a time when Papua has witnessed a rise in tensions, with a string of pro-independence demonstrations taking place.

Jack Wanggai, spokesman for the West Papua National Authority, which represents the pro-independence movement and claims to be a shadow government, said that protests would continue and were "aimed at pushing for a new referendum to decide on the region's future".

Papua People's Assembly chairman Agus Alua argued that while a referendum was an option, the immediate concern was the full implementation of the special autonomy the region was granted in 2001.

"Our demand is simple: we want Jakarta to show goodwill in implementing the special autonomy ."

***

Richard Samuelson
Free West Papua Campaign
Oxford, UK.
www.freewestpapua.org

ENDS

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