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21 Mar 2021

Tammy Mills, The Sydney Morning Herald

Class action win for Indonesian farmers after 2009 Montara oil spill

21 March 2021

More than 15,000 Indonesian seaweed farmers stand to be compensated over one of Australia’s largest oil spills after they won a protracted class action battle against the company that ran the rig off the coast of Western Australia.

The Federal Court found the 2009 Montara oil spill travelled 240 kilometres into Indonesian waters and destroyed the seaweed crops and livelihood of West Timor farmers.


Justice David Yates said there was no other plausible explanation for the widespread loss to the farmers of the Kupang and Rote Ndao regions other than the oil spill.

“The crops located where the oil was observed died shortly after the oil arrived,” Justice Yates said in his lengthy judgment.

“The obvious cannot be ignored.”


Justice Yates ordered PTTEP to pay Mr Sanda damages for his losses from 2009 to 2014, which amounted to 252 million rupiah, or $22,600 Australian dollars.

“This loss was not trivial,” Justice Yates said.

“Indeed, for him it was a very significant loss.”

Justice Yates has sought further submissions to determine how many other seaweed farmers were entitled to compensation, but if the 15,000 seaweed farmers who joined the class action are deemed eligible, the damages could run into the millions of dollars.

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