Experts Clash Over Mud Disaster - Theories on Trigger of Indonesian Mud Volcano

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Two international conferences are scheduled to discuss the Indonesian mud volcano. Bambang Istadi, Geologist, Energi Mega Persada, will present to the London Geological Society new evidence and facts that the drilling of the Banjarpanji-1 well could not have been the trigger for LUSI. The evidence presented will provide for the first time, clear and indisputable facts that none of the four required factors for the well to have been responsible for triggering the eruption occurred.

It is likely that the [earthquake] redistributed the stress in several parts of Java and in particular contributed to reactivate fractures in this preexisting fault, affecting the fluid pressure and permeability and ultimately triggered the eruption through the already overprocessed subsurface

Geological experts are set to face off on the cause of a disastrous mud volcano eruption on the island of Java, which has displaced 40,000 residents and caused billions of dollars in damage.

Two international conferences are scheduled to discuss the mud volcano; the first curently underway in London at the London Geological Society and the second on October 28 in Cape Town, South Africa, under the sponsorship of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. These events will be the first time the official data will be presented.

Bambang Istadi, Geologist, Energi Mega Persada, will present to the London Geological Society new evidence and facts that the drilling of the Banjarpanji-1 well could not have been the trigger for LUSI.

The evidence presented will provide for the first time, clear and indisputable facts that none of the four required factors for the well to have been responsible for triggering the eruption occurred.

Specifically:

  •     There was no uncontrolled kick
  •     The casing shoe was not breached and the well was intact
  •     There was no underground blowout
  •     There was no sustained pressure to propagate a fracture

On May 29, 2006, two days after a powerful earthquake struck some 260 km away in Yogakarta, killing more than 6,000 and rendering some 1.5 million homeless, a mud volcano erupted on the island of Java, the most populated island in the world. Nearby, Lapindo Brantas Inc., an exploration company were drilling towards a deep sedimentary formation along the Watukosek Fault seeking natural gas.

The incredible eruption has since been dubbed LUSI, a compendium of "lumpur", the Indonesian word for mud, and Sidoarjo, the town near which LUSI erupted. Over the past 2 years LUSI has been venting up to 150,000 cubic meters of hot mud daily.

While most experts concur that the mud volcano is a natural event caused by the earthquake, some have pointed to the Lapindo Brantas Inc. drilling operation as a contributing factor in the LUSI eruption.

After extensive field work, a team of leading geologists from Norway, France and Russia, headed by renowned mud volcanologist Dr. Adriano Mazzini from the University of Oslo, concluded that the powerful earthquake in Yogyakarta was the trigger for the mud volcano. They reported their findings in Earth and Planetary Science Letters July 12, 2007:

"It is likely that the [earthquake] redistributed the stress in several parts of Java and in particular contributed to reactivate fractures in this preexisting fault, affecting the fluid pressure and permeability and ultimately triggered the eruption through the already overprocessed subsurface," they wrote.

Ms Yuniwati Teryana, a spokesperson for Lapindo Brantas Inc. commented: "We look forward to the opportunity to engage in an open debate based on the facts. On the basis of the available evidence, we believe that the balance of expert opinion and scientific evidence points towards the Yogakarta earthquake as the most likely cause of the LUSI eruption."

"We take our role as a long-term member of this community seriously. We have already spent $400m on supporting the humanitarian response to this disaster. Our participation in the government-mandated rescue effort is totally based on our commitment to our national interests and the welfare of our fellow citizens," she added.

For further information got to http://www.mudvolcano.com

Please contact: Chris Newman, chris.newman @ fleishmaneurope.com; +44 (0) 7725 043 100

The following experts are available for media interviews:

  •     Dr. Adriano Mazzini - University of Oslo
  •     Nurochmat Sawolo - drilling expert who designed the Banjarpanji-1 well
  •     Bambang Istadi - Geologist, Energi Mega Persada
  •     Dr. Agus Guntoro PdD - Geological Science, University of London. Currently with Faculty of Mineral Technology Trisakti University

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Chris Newman
Fleishman-Hillard
+44 (0) 7725 043 100
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