Vexing Mud Flow Cause Disputed

Experts set for Cape Town
Vexing Mud Flow Cause Disputed

Considering the story is and has been about mud, it’s a remarkably clear (if somewhat contentious) debate.

And it’s a debate that’s been going on ever since mud started spewing from the ground like a gusher more than two years ago.

On May 29, 2006, on the eastern tip of the island of Java in Indonesia, a giant mud volcano erupted, filling the region with a noxious mix of mud, chemicals and, some would say, mendacity. Even before the mud started swallowing up homes and farms and railroad tracks, the questions were being asked.

The devastating Lusi mud volcano continues to take a tragic toll in eastern Java.

Photos courtesy of Richard Davies/Environmental Geology

Not “why” so much, but “how” and “who.”

John Snedden, an AAPG member who’s a reservoir connectivity prediction supervisor with ExxonMobil, wants to begin to answer those questions; so during the October AAPG International Conference and Exhibition in Cape Town, South Africa, he is putting together a symposium on what caused the disaster – natural or otherwise – now known as Lusi (from lumpur, the Indonesian word for mud).

“Mud Volcano: Earthquake or Drilling Trigger?” will be offered in Cape Town as part of the conference’s technical program.

Five speakers representing all sides of the debate will give presentations – reportedly the first time advocates from various positions have been in the same room at the same time – followed by questions, discussions amongst panelists and audience participation.

It will be moderated by a neutral party, AAPG member Jon Gluyas, with Fairfield Energy in Middlesex, England, who will strive to ensure that all views are heard.

What caused the Lusi eruption? A special forum at the AAPG conference in Cape Town will tackle the question.

Included in the forum will be:

* Richard Davies, department of earth sciences, Durham University, Durham, England.
* Adriano Mazzini, University of Oslo, Norway.
* Bambang Istadi, with Lapindo Brantas, Indonesia.
* AAPG member Mark Tingay, with the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences in Perth, Australia.
* Hasan Abidin, Institute of Technology Bandung, Indonesia.

A Contentious Debate

As to the mud volcano’s origins there are two prevalent theories: It was caused by an earthquake, or it was caused by irresponsible drilling by one of the country’s most prestigious oil and gas operators.

According to Cape Town technical co-chair Snedden, the forum’s purpose is to “draw a line under the scientific controversy” as to whether the mud volcano was caused by PT Lapindo Brantas, a subsidiary of PT Energy Mega Persada Tbk in Indonesia, which was drilling for gas in the Porong, Sidoarjo region, east of Java, or whether Lusi was caused by natural forces, like an earthquake.

This debate is more than an academic exercise – thousands of homes, millions of people and perhaps billions of dollars are at stake, plus usability and habitability of the land for years to come.

Lapindo Brantas geologist Bambang Istadi, perhaps not surprisingly, claims the volcano was caused by natural tectonic forces that occurred two days before Lusi in May 2006. On that day an earthquake hit the Yogyakarta region that killed around 6,000 people and some, including Adriano Mazzini from the University of Oslo, point to that event.

On the other side of the debate, Richard Davies and AAPG member Mark Tingay propose that Lusi was caused by the drilling of the Banjar Panji 1 gas exploration well.

Whatever happened, the what of what happened is clear. After the mud erupted, 30,000-50,000 residents lost their homes and, at present, the region shows signs of irreversible collapse and devastation.
Click for larger image

Snedden says before action can be taken on clean up, “We need to agree first on the cause, so we expect an active debate.”

Complicating the issue even further is the fact the man at the center of the storm, Aburizal Bakrie, is not only Indonesia’s minister for social welfare but also part of the family that controls Lapindo Brantas. Bakrie has called the volcano a “natural disaster” unrelated to the drilling activities.

Science vs. Politics?

Snedden may be after the science, but so far – certainly from Davies’ perspective – it is politics and money that has been mostly contested. In fact, a court in Java has already agreed with Bakrie that Lusi was caused by natural forces, a claim Davies rejects.

On National Public Radio recently, Davies said the research on the Yogyakarta earthquake proves it was too small and too far away to have caused the chain of events, concluding that Lusi was “almost certainly” caused by drilling in the area. Specifically, Davies believes that a series of operational events led to a subsurface blowout, which meant the fluids within the well and leaked out on to the surface, which caused the explosion.

As bad as Lusi is, according to Davies, it is not the largest mud volcano (that happened in Azerbaijan), but is the fastest growing.

The debate, almost from the beginning, has been contentious – one environmentalist in Indonesia called Lusi “the worst environmental crime of the century” – and that is why Snedden believes the time is right to bring the sides together.

There are facts that need to be heard and discussed, he believes, and information that needs to be harnessed.

Snedden said the idea of holding this symposium at an AAPG international conference in South Africa grew out of an assembled collection of data gathered by an AAPG technical program committee.

“We decided to elevate these papers to a special technical forum, given the considerable attention in the popular press but also the importance and impact of this event,” he said.

“Geology really does matter here,” he added, “as thousands in Java can attest.”

http://www.aapg.org/explorer/2008/07jul/javamud.cfm

5 Balasan ke Vexing Mud Flow Cause Disputed

  1. lady gaga mengatakan:

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    in Safari. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to
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  2. korbanlapindo mengatakan:

    Pak Hardi Prasetyo,

    Saya benar-benar tidak habis pikir dengan pandangan anda.

    1. Kenapa mengedepankan merah-putih ketika bangsa lain memperhatikan bencana ini, sementara pemerintah (anda dan BPLS!) tidak kunjung peduli? Kenapa berharap blog-nya Bung Rovicky yang memfasilitasi? Ataukah benar sinyalemen banyak pihak, bahwa BPLS ternyata sekedar Badan Penanggulan, dan bukan Penanggulangan?
    2. Sebagai lembaga pemerintah, yang bertanggungjawab melindungi rakyatnya (dan seingat saya Sidoarjo sampai saat ini masih rakyat Indonesia), kenapa anda begitu bersikukuh dengan agenda untuk menyimpulkan bahwa penyebab semburan lumpur adalah gempa bumi?
    3. Lebih aneh lagi, kenapa anda perlu menitipkan agenda ini kepada Prof Asyikin Sukendar (yang, mohon dikoreksi kalau salah, terakhir menarik pendapatnya bahwa Lumpur Lapindo adalah akibat pengeboran?), dan bukannya dengan kapasitas dan anggaran negara yang sudah dihabiskan BPLS, menyelidiki dan membuat kesimpulan sendiri? Apakah anda takut memancing kontroversi dan berhadapan dengan rakyat? Ataukah anda paham dengan sebenar2nya bahwa upaya ilmiah apapun yang jujur untuk mengkaji penyebab semburan lumpur ini, hanya akan berujung pada satu kesimpulan, yaitu kesalahan prosedur Lapindo (dan kesimpulan ini tentunya tidak akan menyenangkan orang2 di Jakarta bukan?).
    4. Ah, atau jangan2 BPLS, seperti kata teman saya, memang benar2 Badan Pembela Lapindo SuBakrie…
    5. Ah, saya benar2 bingung dengan sikap anda

    korbanlapindo,

    yang tiap kali harus berupaya keras untuk membedakan mana suara BPLS, mana suara Lapindo

  3. Hardi Prasetyo mengatakan:

    Saya sangat concern terhadap rencana AAPG menyelenggarakan suatu forum debat Lusi apakah dipicu gempabumi (murni proses alam) atau pemboran (bencana yang antropogenik).
    Saat ini saya sedang mendalami Paper Davies dkk., (2008) yang baru direlis di cybernet The East Jawa Mud Volcano (2006 to Present): Earthquake or Drilling Trigger. Paper ini sangat fokus untuk ”membuka peluang’, pemicu gampabumi sebagaimana yang diusulkan Mazzini dkk., (2007), disamping itu dengan ikutnya Prof. Rudi Ribiandini, makalah ini kembli menutup ruang kombinasi pemicu ‘gembumi dan pemboran’, sehingga dengan penelaahan yang mendalam sampai pada skenario 3 dipicu oleh ‘drilling (man made)’. Paper ini merupakan paper yang relatif paling baru diterbitkan, setelah paper Abidin, H., Davies R., (2008) dkk. tentang Subsidence dan Uplift sebagai dampak Lusi. Saking seriusnya untuk mendalaminya maka saya sudah menterjemahkan ke dalam bahasa Indonesia makalah Davies (2008), Mazzini (2007), B. Istadi (2008), Abidin (2008) baru abstractnya, dengan penekanan kata kunci setiap paragraf, gambar-2 diintegrasikan. Ini adalah salah satu upaya Penanggulangan Semburan Lusi.
    Sesuai komitmen AAPG yang berusaha agar Debat ini ‘setara’ dan índependen’dengan menunjuk moderator yang mempunyai kredibilitas. Namun bila mengevaluasi ke 5 nara sumber yang diundang ‘di-setting’ maka kemungkinan dari kesetaraan yang saya nilai perkiraan keadaan adalah 2 untuk gempabumi dan 3 untuk penyebab pemboran.
    Mungkin penilaian saya salah. Namun alangkah serunya dan akan benar-benar setara bila dalam ‘war game’ kelompok fenomena alam gempa bumi dapat diperkuat 1 nara sumber lagi, antara lain dari Seminar Solusi Lusi, Februari 2008 di SBY adalah Prof. Sukendar Asikin, Guru Besar dari ITB.
    Pernyataan AAPG bahwa sebelum melakukan sesuatu untuk penanggulangan perlu terlebih dahulu di kristalkan kontroversi penyebab dan pemicu Lusi tersebut. Hal ini juga diangkat oleh Dr. Basuki (Mantan Ketua Pelaksana Timnas PSLS) dalam bukunya yang sangat apik dan merangsang untuk dibaca, 230 hal. berjudul SEMBURAN LUMPUR PANAS LUSI: Pelajaran dari Sebuah Bencana, dimana pada BAB II Mud Volcano atau Underground Blow Out. Kebetulan tanggal 17 Juli 2008 yang lalu saya mendapatkan kehormatan untuk melakukan penelahaan dan pembedahan di Bandung.
    Kita di satu sisi patut gembira karena forum yang sangat bergengsi AAPG, pada pertemuan Internasional di Afrika Selatan (Cape Town, Oktober yad) akan melaksanakan Debat Lusi.
    Namun sebagai insan Merah Putih, saya mengimpikan sebelum Road to Cape Town kiranya dapat melakukan lanjutan dari Seminar Mencari Solusi LUSI, Februari 2008 yang lalu.
    Saya mengusulkan pada forum WordPress.com yang dikelola Pak Rovicky ini yang juga nominasi sebagai the best dikelasnya, kira2 teman yang concern dapat membuat simulasi atau kirka apa yang kira-kira menjadi ‘war game’ Debat Lusi di AAPG Gempabumi atau Pemboran?
    Kita tidak cukup puas bila Debat terhadap Kontroversi Lusi di global atau internasionalkan, karena terkesan tidak dapat mengkerucut. Namun yang terpenting, bila saatnya tiba kita harus bisa mencati titik temu yang rasional, sehingga kita bisa bahu-membahu untuk mengakhiri Musibah/Bencana ini, atau paling tidak memperkecil, sehingga sendi-sendi kehidupan masyarakat yang terkena dampak langsung atau tidak langsung dapat dipulihkan.
    Pelajaran penting yang dapat dipetik adalah memperkaya basis data kebumian pada daerah berpotensi mengendalikan ”mud diapir”dan ‘mud volcanism, sehingga upaya kegiatan eksplorasi Migas untuk keamanan pasoken energi ke depan tidak mengalami hambatan baik psikologis maupun teknis.

    Sekali lagi saya sangat apresiasi pada forum ini, dan mudah-mudahan pengelolanya terpilih menjadi ‘the best’.
    Salam hormat
    Hardi Prasetyo

  4. narayudha mengatakan:

    come on, this disaster will be stop on 27th july 2008.
    please be prepare for this.

  5. agung mengatakan:

    to assemble public opinion that the root cause was triggered by natural act instead drilling malfunction.

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