Mystery man unearthed as mud sticks to Lapindo [Indonesia]

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Article
22 November 2006

Mystery man unearthed as mud sticks to Lapindo [Indonesia]

Author: John Aglionby, Australian [newspaper]

An American friend [James Belcher] of Aburizal Bakrie, Indonesia's powerful welfare minister, is behind the mysterious Freehold Group, which agreed to buy oil explorer Lapindo Brantas [part of Energi Mega Persada] last week. Lapindo has been blighted by a large mudflow at one of its drilling sites that is likely to cost hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up... Belcher said Minarak Labuan, a Bakrie Group affiliate, would "contribute significantly" to the mudflow clean-up costs... Fauzi Ichsan, an economist with Standard Chartered, said there was concern that Freehold would allow Lapindo to become insolvent: "Then Lapindo's liability in cleaning up the mess would be limited to the assets of the company." Mr Belcher...categorically denied this.

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Article
16 November 2006

Lapindo Brantas changes hands, but questions linger [Indonesia]

Author: Jakarta Post

...PT Energi Mega Persada (EMP) says it has sold PT Lapindo Brantas Inc., its unit that operates the gas well that caused the massive mud eruption in East Java... EMP, an affiliate of a company controlled by the family of Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Aburizal Bakrie, signed an agreement on Nov. 14 to sell its shares...to Freehold Group... EMP did not provide any...details about Freehold Group's approach to accepting responsibility...for the costs of coping with the mud disaster. The company only said that Lapindo Brantas would be supported by Minarak Labuan..., another affiliate of the Bakrie Group, in tackling the mudflow... Lapindo Brantas owns half of the Sidoarjo gas well, while PT Medco Energi Internasional and Australia's Santos Ltd. own 32 percent and 18 percent respectively... EMP [also] said Lapindo was ready to face a lawsuit filed by Medco... In its action,...Medco is...demanding that it be exempted from any obligation to compensate the victims of the disaster. [also refers to PT Bumi Resources]

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