Jakarta – Pertamina Hulu Energi Offshore Northwest Java, an oil-drilling subsidiary of the state energy company, has started drilling a relief well to plug the oil leak that has been polluting the north coast of West Java in the past few weeks.
It has hired Boots & Coots, an American well control company, which successfully resolved a similar but larger incident in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
"We will control the YYA-1 well through this new YYA-1RW well so we can immediately close the well so it no longer spills oil," Pertamina Hulu Energi spokesman Ifki Sukarya said in a statement on Friday.
He said the company had already drilled 624 meters of the targeted 2,765 meters into the seabed and that they planned to pump mud from the relief well into the YYA-1 well to plug the leak and close it off permanently.
The oil spill affected more than 4,5 square kilometers of marine and coastal area, crippling fishermen and shrimp farmers in the region. The incident came just 15 months after a similar oil spill in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, caused the death of five people and polluted an area of 130 square kilometers.
Pertamina has installed a 4,200-meter static oil boom to contain the oil spill around the leaking well.
It also installed an oil boom in river mouths and deployed a cleaning team to work with local communities and regional governments to clean up affected beaches.