Fatal incident at Indonesian geothermal plant

A worker has died and at least 10 others were injured after inhaling toxic gases at Geo Dipa Energi’s (GDE) Dieng geothermal project in Central Java, Indonesia.

State-owned geothermal company GDE, which operates the plant, said the gas leaked when workers were checking a relief valve in preparation for drilling on Well No. 28.

“One person was killed and five others are in intensive care at Wonosobo Hospital following the incident. Geo Dipa management and staff express our deepest condolences for the accident. Geo Dipa will also be responsible for any casualties,” GDE company secretary Endang Iswandini was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post.

“The cause will be determined through an investigation conducted by the [Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources’] Renewables Inspector. Initial information indicates that the cause was equipment malfunction,” she said.

Endang stressed that while a well was being drilled, instead of an eruption, toxic gas was released when a worker checked a relief valve on a mud pump. He added that all standard safety procedures were in place at the time of the incident.

Activists are now urging regulators to better enforce workplace safety practices at geothermal power plants after workers were killed and injured in an alleged hydrogen sulfide leak at the project on Saturday.

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Activist Ki Bagus Hadi Kusuma of the environmental group Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) called on the government to halt all geothermal projects across Indonesia, assess existing and planned geothermal work areas (GEPs) and form an independent team composed of experts from the National Human Rights Commission exists and civil society groups to investigate accidents in the projects.

Indonesia has more than 60 geothermal working areas. The Republic is rich in geothermal resources and is targeting a total geothermal power generation capacity of 3.35 gigawatts by 2030 according to its long-term power procurement plan.

Jacobs to increase production capacity

US engineering services company Jacobs was appointed by GDE in February to advise on underground project management for the planned expansion of its Dieng and Patuha geothermal power plants on Java.

The project will increase the power generation capacity of the Dieng and Patuha geothermal fields from 110 MW to 220 MW and help expand power generation from renewable sources to support Indonesia’s transition to a cleaner energy future.

Jacobs will conduct a geoscientific study of the geothermal resource, including a review of the conceptual reservoir model and development strategy, well orientation, geological forecasting and drill programming, along with development of drilling strategy and drilling risk mitigation. The contractor will also provide technical knowledge on the exploitation of geothermal resources and build on experience from previous drilling campaigns at Dieng and Patuha.

“Jacobs has a proven history of successfully executing geothermal development projects in Indonesia and around the world over the past 40 years,” said Keith Lawson, general manager of Jacobs.

“This project is a great opportunity for us to continue supporting GDE to harness Indonesia’s geothermal resources for a cleaner, more sustainable and efficient energy future and to help attract additional investment in the geothermal sector in Indonesia.”

The power plants are the first geothermal projects to be funded by the Asian Development Bank under a direct lending program. The project will provide employment opportunities to local communities, provide renewable electricity to the Java-Bali network and reduce CO2 emissions by more than 700,000 tons annually compared to fossil fuel power generation.

“This is a strategic project that can help meet people’s clean energy needs. It will have a positive impact on the social and economic aspects, especially the surrounding areas,” said Riki Firmandha Ibrahim, President and Director of the GDE.

“This is a good opportunity for Jacobs to play a big part in driving positive change in Indonesia.”

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