Indigenous communities speak out on Tangguh

Down to Earth No 65  May 2005

Statement by the people of Soway, Wayuri & Simuna as the landowners of the site where the Tangguh natural gas project is being developed.


To the Indonesian Oil & Gas Management Body - BPMigas

We have reviewed the process and documents relating to the loss of traditional rights of the Simuna, Soway, Wayuri people in connection with the Tangguh natural gas project under development by Pertamina and BP, facilitated by the Manokwari local government in 1999. We, the Soway, Wasuri and Simuna, have carried out consultations within each clan and between the three clans and with our ancestors. As a result, we have reached agreement and issue the following statement.

We hope that all relevant parties will give this letter serious consideration and thank you for your attention.

Saengga, 30th August 2004


Alfons, Amandus, Simon & David Simuna
Marcelino, Hengky, Andarias & Cosmas Soway
Yance, Yohannes, Yusur & Gerson Wayuri
Plus Hengky Soway, community head of Saengga II

Sent to Indonesian President, minister of mines & energy, provincial governors, district and local government officials, head of Pertamina, BP in London & Jakarta, Papuan, Indonesian & international NGOs and the press.



In view of developments related to the Tangguh natural gas project of the Indonesian Oil & Gas Management Body (BPMigas) which is managed by BP Indonesia on the customary lands of the Soway, Simuna and Wayuri people. We - the three clans who have ancestral rights over the land to be used for the Tangguh gas processing plant - state that:

  1. The 50 hectares of land in Old Tanah Merah village which, according to the minutes of the 1999 meeting, was handed over voluntarily by the community remains the property of the Soway clan because there has been nothing on paper to date that states that the people of Soway handed over the land to Pertamina in 1999 for the development of the Tangguh gas project.
  2. We are of the opinion that the process whereby the Soway, Wayuri and Simuna relinquished land to Pertamina in 1999 was not legally valid because it did not reflect whatsoever the value we place on land as a source of livelihoods which has been handed down to us through the generations. Also, when our land was transferred in 1999, we were not given completely clear information about the status of that land or its location. We were never given a chance to study the minutes taken by Pertamina before signing the document. For these reasons, we request a review of the status of this land.
  3. The various activities carried out in our village(s) by BP Indonesia, such as the community development project, the plans to develop a new settlement and the proposed community fund plus various other things, are part of BP Indonesia's social commitment as set out in the Environment Impact Assessment document. They are absolutely nothing to do with the issue of the status of the land that we are demanding.
  4. We refuse to negotiate or discuss issues about our customary lands with BP Indonesia, as this company is only the contractor for the Tangguh natural gas project.
  5. We will only discuss the status of our customary land that is to be used for the Tangguh project buildings with the Indonesian Oil & Gas Board (BP Migas) as project owners.
  6. We note that, so far, the presence of the Tangguh project has only caused conflict between communities and that the social disadvantages have outweighed any advantages.
  7. We ask that all project activities on our customary lands be stopped with effect from the date of this statement until the problems in this statement have been fully addressed.
  8. No-one is allowed to negotiate with anyone at all on behalf of our three tribes without a mandate from us.

This is our statement that we hope will be acted on immediately. We will not give our approval under customary law for any activities carried out by the Tangguh project until the issues above have been settled. We will not take responsibility for anything that may happen if the Tangguh natural gas project is pushed ahead before this is done.

Signed Saengga, 30th Aug 2004 as above.
(Translated by DTE)