by Charles Roring, Manokwari West Papua
Papua island has one of the most important last remaining tropical rainforests in the world. It is located in the Pacific region between Asia and Australia. This forest works as "respirator" that absorbs or captures huge amount of world's CO2 emission produced by human activities. While it is shrinking rapidly due to irresponsible logging, in recent years, the burden the Papuan forest bears is getting heavier. It has to neutralize additional CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions from Berau bay.
The Location of BP LNG Tangguh Project
One of the most important mining projects in West Papua - Indonesia is BP LNG Tangguh. It is located in Berau bay of birds head region of the island. Next year, it will begin exporting LNG to China, Korea, Mexico and probably other emerging markets in Asia. Although there are many problems related to environmental issues, and claims from indigenous tribes living around the bay over a fair compensation, BP considers this project a commercial success. This can be read in a paper written by Jim Egger, Vice President of Tangguh LNG Marketing entitled Tangguh LNG: Commercial Success in a Challenging Environment.
In August 1998, subsidiaries of BG plc and ARCO announced in a press release that the proven gas reserves in three Production Sharing Contracts had more than doubled. From the previously certified 14.4 trillion cubic feet, the additional proved and probable reserve was 18.3 tcf. But this huge amount of natural gas stream contains approximately 12.5% or 4.08 tcf CO2e.When the LNG plant in Berau or Bintuni bay starts to produce LNG, it will have to separate the CO2 from the natural gas stream. According to AMDAL study document, tens of thousand tons of CO2 will be released annually by the project into the atmosphere. This green house gas will spread to the surrounding tropical rainforest of the island. When high concentration of carbon dioxide is found in the atmosphere, it will raise the temperature and create acid rain that may be harmful to plant leaves and animals in the region.
There has to be a win-win solution to this problem. There are several options which BP can choose, some of them are re-injecting the carbon dioxide to the ground or to deep sea; capturing the CO2 for growing algae that can be used for making bio-fuel, or buying the carbon offset from the indigenous tribes who are the real owners of the forest around the LNG plant. The cheapest option will be purchasing the carbon offsets. The money that the indigenous tribes receive can be used to improve their education and health facilities or run businesses that are not related to logging activities thus preventing deforestation. Therefore, it is the moral obligation of the British Petroleum to help the local people in the bay certify their forests for Emission Reductions. Purchasing carbon offset from the indigenous tribes living in the Berau bay is a win-win solution or the most acceptable scheme which BP should do to answer questions related to its CO2e emissions in Papua.