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Indonesia






Brief Report

The Tangguh LNG Project and
Human Rights Issues
Bintuni Bay, West Papua 1

By Bustar Maitar 2



Translated by DOWN TO EARTH, May 2005


[1] Introduction

BP’s Tangguh LNG Project is located in Beru- Bintuni Bay, Bintuni Bay District, West Papua, Indonesia’s eastern-most province. This project is being implemented by BP Indonesia, which holds 37.16% of the shares in the Tangguh venture. The Tangguh Project has LNG reserves of 14.4 tcf. The Tangguh Project has recently won orders from Chine, Korea and the US and is currently eyeing the Japanese market. This project is awaiting the go-ahead from BP and its partners. Production is scheduled to begin in 2008.

Lessons should be drawn from the negative experiences of BP’s operations in Columbia and Alaska and other parts of the world where companies have been involved in numerous human rights violations. US mining giant, Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold is implicated in various human rights issues in Timika (West Papua). Since its arrival in Bintuni Bay in 1996, BP has embarked on a campaign, making claims that it has adopted international human rights standards in its operations and prioritised a ‘community-based security approach’. This rejects the use of Indonesian security forces to protect its operations as the company wants to avoid being embroiled in a similar situation to Freeport in Timika. BP also strongly upholds principles of transparency.

Not before time, BP then hired consultants from various institutions mainly for TIAP, which is headed by the influential former US Senator, George Mitchell. TIAP carried out a number of assessments on the establishment of the Tangguh Project and its impacts on the indigenous people inhabiting the area of operations. The TIAP report was submitted to BP in order to improve its performance.

The question remains as to whether BP’s Tangguh Project human rights policies, its community-based security approach and principles of transparency have been genuinely implemented throughout their operations. Did TIAP and the other consultants really carry out thorough assessments that covered the wide number of issues that have arisen in and around the area of BP’s Contract of Work? Field observations and ongoing discussions with the company clearly show that BP fully understands that the political situation in Papua is like a time bomb ready to go off at any moment, trapping the Papuan people in the conflict and causing regional instability. So why is it reluctant to use its influence positively to urge Jakarta to put a stop to its repressive policies in West Papua?

This brief report has been drawn up by the Saengga Village Indigenous People (owners of the land in Marga Simuna, Wayuri and Soway) and the Perdu Foundation, representing those most affected by the Tangguh Project, and will provide some answers to some of the very important questions outlined above.


[11] Human Rights Issues

New Settlements That Promise Nothing

The people of Tanah Merah Lama are now occupying new settlements provided by BP. These are located in two areas: Kampung Onar and Kampung Tanah Merah Baru. The location of Tanah Merah Lama has been fenced off for the construction of the processing plant.

BP provided the resettled people of Tanah Merah Lama with basic supplies for the year or so after they were relocated in late 2003. These people are now beginning to ask what will happen to their future food security, now this year is up. They do not have sufficient land for cultivation and they have already been prohibited from fishing in the waters around the Tangguh Project.

Discussions held with the Saengga people indicate that the houses to be built and given to both Saengga and Tanah Merah communities will not remain in their possession for long. This is because they will not be able to make a living from the small amount of land allocated to them once they have ceased working for the company. As a result, many will probably hand over the rights to their new homes (with their certificates of private ownership) to settlers from outside the area. In addition, the newcomers will probably find it easier to make a living by exploiting the opportunities made available by the BP project. This will in turn increasingly alienate the local people who will eventually go back to living in the same way they did prior to BP’s arrival.


New Settlers in the Project Area

By around December 2003, about 150 new settlers had arrived (mostly from Toraja and Makassar in Sulawesi) to seek work with BP through the local application process in Saengga. Around 100 of them have now found work.3 The newcomers appointed through the local system had received recommendations from the village head and the Saengga Development Committee and were thus regarded as local applicants by BP. They live in Saengga village and rent rooms from the local people on an ‘emergency’ basis. Accommodation in Saengga currently costs Rp. 500,000 per month on average. Each recommendation given by the village head incurs a ‘village fee,’ which can vary from Rp 50,000 to Rp. 1,000,000. Recommendations given by the head of the Development Committee do not incur a fee, but applicants normally provide him with some cigarettes as payment.

The predominance of newcomers in the area around the project is starting to be felt strongly and cannot be stemmed as had been projected by BP. BP’s efforts to encourage growth in Sorong, Manokwari and Fak-Fak are not fully working yet, and the assumption that newcomers will be prevented from moving into the project location looks increasingly unlikely.

Attempts by the Security Forces to Infiltrate the Project Location

Other developments in Saengga include plans to deploy police and Babinsa (non-commissioned law enforcement agent) and to establish a police post in Saengga village. This plan is a BP initiative. The reason given by BP to the community is that the increased incidence of drunkenness in Saengga interferes directly with the company’s activities at this site. The plan to establish a police post and deploy Babinsa has its supporters and opponents within the community. However, most Saengga people are against it. In their opinion, the community is capable of resolving problems that occur itself, without the need to call in ‘outsiders’ to interfere with village business. According to local people, police from Babo Sub-District have been sent on previous occasions to deal with incidents of drunkenness in the village that have interfered with BP’s operations. Police visits to Saengga are fully facilitated by BP4. Towards the end of 2003, BP initiated a comparative study to see how community policing is implemented in Yogyakarta. According to the Saengga village head, a number of people took part in the study, including the representatives of Indigenous Associations from Babo, Babo police, UNIPA representatives and Papua Provincial police.

Drunkenness has been a problem in Saengga village for quite some time. Prior to BP’s arrival in the midst of Saengga, local people were familiar with alcohol. However, the incidence of drunkenness increased upon the arrival of BP. This was due to the substantial increase in cash circulating within the community. Alcohol makes its way into Saengga from Kelapa Dua5 and from company ships bringing building materials for housing. Drunkenness is also triggered by people’s dissatisfaction with the company. That is, in turn, dominated by employment problems and frustration over BP’s unfulfilled promises. The people normally express their complaints and problems more straightforwardly when they are drunk. When they are sober they tend to remain silent.

Relations within the Saengga community are still good, although there is the potential for conflict that may result in a rift. The main cause is the Simuna clan’s demand that BP must build more houses, particularly for clan members not registered in the 1999 census because they were away from Saengga at that time. The Saengga people’s resentment of the Tanah Merah people is also very much in evidence, due to BP having paid more attention to Tanah Merah. This situation will certainly generate a huge, latent potential for conflict within the community.

Two police officers are currently deployed to provide security for the BP-Tangguh Base Camp in Saengga. The police post in Saengga has been completed, but has yet to become operational. This is why the two police officers have been posted in the Tangguh Base Camp. The various cases that have arisen in Saengga have led to local people being treated as criminals who disrupt project operations and general law and order. Yet when people are drunk, it is clear that the words they utter reflect the insecurity they feel about their lives.

It has not yet been established whether the shooting in Meriyedi village that led to the death of 5 civilians was part of the security forces’ efforts to strengthen their position in that area. However, because of this incident, the concentration of security forces has been increased in the Babo area " the location of the Tangguh project.


Endowment Fund Used to Deceive the People

In September 2003, local people were offered USD 75,000 in the form of an endowment fund. The fund was offered to the Simuri people that owned the land where the Tangguh LNG plant was to be built. This offer came as a follow up to the Saengga workshop agreement of 2001. A foundation would be set up to manage the fund, called the ‘Simuri Fund’. However, it is odd that those ‘in control’ of the Foundation would all be people who work for BP and who are Tangguh project decision-makers. The community rejected the offer based on the consideration that the sum on offer did not compensate for the sacrifices the Simuri people have made and that the Foundation owners were not Simuri.


Land Rights Case that has yet to be resolved

Land rights disputes within the Tangguh LNG project area are now being raised again by local communities, particularly by those clans who owned the land that will be used to develop the Tangguh project. The clans concerned are the Simuna, Soway and Wayuri. These three clans have held joint meetings and appointed representatives to resolve various village problems. Six people " two from each clan - have been given the mandate to represent their clans.

These six representatives are currently consolidating efforts to reclaim land that has been released to the company. The Soway clan has prepared a position statement on the reclaiming of 50 hectares of land near Tanah Merah Lama village which, according to the company, was given to it free of charge. Other clans are also in the midst of preparing their cases in order to claim back land that has already been handed over to the company.

The communities say they are demanding the return of land which has been ‘sold’ and where announcements have been made about this land release because they believe that they have been deceived by the company and the other parties that facilitated the sale and purchase of this land.

In response to the communities’ reactions, the company has begun to make approaches to the landowners. These include an offer to resume funding to the Saengga Development Committee, primarily the payment of stipends This assistance funding had been withheld for three months. The development of Saengga has been speeded up and other efforts have been made now that the land reclaiming activities have come to the attention of the company.

When the people demanded that BP resolved the land disputes, the company claimed that it was merely the project contractor and that therefore it was not able to take any decisions on the disputed land . However, on another occasion, BP offered the three land-owning clans one billion Rupiah in cash from the endowment fund with the caveat that if the money was accepted, then the land dispute must be considered resolved. But the communities rejected this offer.


TIAP in the eyes of the Saengga People

Since TIAP was first established in early 2002, we have questioned the legitimacy of those involved. BP claims that they are independent, but TIAP’s reports continue to indicate that they side with BP. Even when they do make references to community level problems, they have completely failed to touch on problems that are of fundamental importance to local communities. In addition, they have not put any pressure on BP to resolve current problems such as the land for the LNG plant site, the death of infants in Aranday and threats to the environment.

TIAP did consult with many stakeholders in Papua. However as far as we are able to tell, this was just a sop to supplement its work. The statements in the report reflect TIAP’s thoughts, not the thoughts expressed by the stakeholders themselves. As has been the case with BP’s own reports, TIAP’s reports have not been distributed to local communities, and local communities have not received TIAP reports and have not been given the opportunity to respond to the contents.

The people view TIAP as they view all the other teams put together by BP that visit them: they ask questions and then go away without the communities ever being told what happens next.

In our opinion, TIAP was established by BP to smooth the way in its fight to compete for the Chinese LNG market. … and after its Chinese tender failed, everything that BP has done has been based entirely on the company’s interest in seeking the biggest possible profits, something which is all too evident at village level. Many promises made by BP " officially and unofficially "when it was still trying to win the Chinese LNG contract, have slowly begun to fade since its bid failed. A concrete example is the agreement signed by BP at the Saengga workshop, much of which has yet to be fulfilled to this day. (@)2005

Notes
1 Brief Report The Course of the Tangguh Project " BP in Bintuni Bay, West Papua
2 Regional Representative for West Papua, Indonesia Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM)
3The number of newcomers has increased substantially as building work on the Tangguh LNG refinery will start soon.
4 Translator’s note: the term difasilitasi usually means that money, transport, or other services have been provided. In this case, BP is believed to have supplied transport and food to the two police officers.
5 A transmigration site that developed into a settlement due to an oil palmcompany.


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