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Jakarta Post

After fire, Gundih gas well in East Java set to resume operations on Sunday

  • Wahyoe Boediwardhana

    The Jakarta Post

Surabaya, East Java   /   Wed, April 15, 2020   /   01:38 pm
After fire, Gundih gas well in East Java set to resume operations on Sunday Workers scramble to safety as an installation in the Gundih gas plant in Blora, Central Java, bursts into a column of fire on Thursday (9/4). (Courtesy of/SKK Migas)

The Gundih gas processing facility in Blora, Central Java is expected to resume operations by Sunday after being shut down last week following a fire cut gas supplies to thousands of homes and a power plant in the province.

The Upstream Oil and Gas Special Regulatory Task Force (SKK Migas) dispatched on Tuesday a team to investigate the cause of the fire. At the same time, the plant’s operator, oil and gas producer Pertamina EP, is working to repair the facility’s burned thermal oxidizer that functions as a gas emissions reduction device.

“Hopefully, we can resume normal operations by this week,” said SKK Migas regional head Nur Wahidi in a statement on April 14, “A recovery would allow us to restore the fulfillment of energy needs.”

The shutdown of the Gundih facility, which produces 50 million metric standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd), has cut the gas supply to 5,800 homes within the region and to the 450 megawatt (MW) Tambak Lorok combined-cycle power plant (PLTGU).

The gas well was shut down on April 9 shortly after the thermal oxidizer burst into a column of fire at around 9:30 a.m. that day. Pertamina EP, a subsidiary of state-owned energy company Pertamina, extinguished the fire by 10:45 a.m. with no reported casualties.

Pertamina EP’s general manager for the facility, Agus Amperianto, said on April 10 that the Central Java Police had already investigated the incident but SKK Migas and the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry would conduct a more technical investigation into how the fire started.

“Once the official investigation results from the Energy Ministry and SKK Migas are out, we will inform stakeholders,” he said.

Despite the cut-off gas supply, state-owned gas company PGN said the 5,800 households “have not been affected yet” as the company had mobilized its compressed natural gas (CNG) reserves from neighboring East Java to power homes in the meantime.

PGN said it channeled gas from the Gundih plant to 4,000 homes in Blora and 1,800 homes in Semarang, Central Java. Each customer in the former category consumed, on average, 1,300 cubic meters of gas per day, while those in the latter category used an average of 300 cu m daily. The gas is mostly used for cooking.

“Stoves are still on as there is still piped gas supply,” said PGN corporate secretary Rachmat Hutama on Thursday.

 Meanwhile, the Tambak Lorok power plant’s operator, state-owned electricity company PLN, said the region’s electricity supply was “very safe” because regional peak electricity consumption had fallen 11.2 percent over the past two weeks due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“So even if Tambak Lorok is non-operational, the system is safe because our supplies are very safe,” said PLN Java, Madura and Bali business director Haryanto.

The electricity company also has a CNG reserve supply on standby that “will only be used, if needed, until Pertamina’s supply returns,” he added.

The Tambak Lorok plant has a power production capacity of 450MW from two blocks that can collectively consume up to 50 billion British thermal unit (BBtu) of gas per day. The third block, slated to begin operations in April, will have a capacity of 780MW and consume 90 BBtu of gas each day.