Indonesia allowing drilling in conservation areas
Indonesia is moving to allow the drilling of geothermal wells in conservation forests, as it seeks to boost the amount of electricity generated from cleaner, renewable sources.
Reported from Indonesia, the Indonesian government, “After having already opened up protected forests for development, is now moving to allow the drilling of geothermal wells in conservation forests, as it seeks to boost the amount of electricity generated from cleaner, renewable sources.
“Either we revise the law or we issue a new government regulation in lieu of the law to allow geothermal drilling in conservation forests,” Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said on Wednesday.
Under a presidential decree which took effect on Feb. 1, mining, power plants and other projects deemed strategically important can now take place in protected forests.
Conservation forests are considered more ecologically important than protected forests and have been the most strictly protected forests in Indonesia.
Based on the current Forestry Law, the only human intervention allowed in conservation forests is for education or research.
Under the government’s proposal, geothermal wells could be drilled in conservation forests but geothermal power plants would have to be built outside of these areas.
Zulkifli said that because most of the country’s geothermal resources are located in conservation forests, allowing geothermal wells in these areas was crucial to meeting the government’s goal of generating more electricity from geothermal sources.
“Geothermal wells will not damage the environment because they are underground operations. Therefore, you do not cut down the forest,” he said.
Suryadarma, the chairman of the Indonesian Geothermal Association (API), said the government needed to move quickly to allow geothermal drilling in conservation forests if it wanted to keep to its timetable for completion of phase two of its “fast-track” electricity-generation program.
Abadi Poernomo, president director of state-owned PT Pertamina Geothermal Energy, said allowing geothermal drilling in conservation forests would help accelerate completion of its geothermal projects.
PGE currently has three planned geothermal projects — Kamojang and Karaha Bodas in West Java and Lumut Balai in South Sumatra — for which it would like to drill in conservation forests. All three projects are part of phase two of the “fast-track” program.
“Currently, we can’t start drilling geothermal wells that are located in conservation forests and it’s causing delays,” he said. “We are in talks with the Forestry Ministry on how to sort this out, so we could continue with our projects soon.”
Indonesia has 19.9 million hectares of conservation forest and 31.6 million hectares of protected forests.”
Source: The Jakarta Globe