UK Research Team Points Finger at Lapindo Brantas for Indonesian Volcano Eruption

14 February 2010 (Last Updated February 14th, 2010 18:30)

New evidence suggests a mining company, not an earthquake, was responsible for the ongoing Luci volcano eruption in Indonesia which to date has resulted in 14 deaths. British scientists say oil and gas company Lapindo Brantas is to blame for the world’s largest mud volcano, which has sp

New evidence suggests a mining company, not an earthquake, was responsible for the ongoing Luci volcano eruption in Indonesia which to date has resulted in 14 deaths.

British scientists say oil and gas company Lapindo Brantas is to blame for the world’s largest mud volcano, which has spewed the equivalent of 60 Olympic swimming pools of boiling mud a day since May 2006, according to a report by UK newspaper The Guardian.

UK Professor Richard Davies said he has been studying the eruption with a team of scientists and that by his findings, it would be impossible for the earthquake to naturally cause the level of mud eruption Luci has.

Davies said he believes that the disaster has occurred because of the removal of the drill bit while the hole was still unstable – an action he said would draw a reaction similar to that seen when “taking the lid off a giant cola bottle”.

Lapindo senior drilling advisor Nurrochmat Sawolo denied these claims, however, in an article published in the journal Marine and Petroleum Geology.

Lapindo Brantas vice-president Yuniwati Teryana also disputed the claims, saying the researchers did not have complete data from the event.

“There is no correlation between the eruption and Lapindo," Teryana said.

So far, 7km2 have been covered in mud with 13 villages destroyed and 60,000 made homeless and it is feared the eruption could last for another decade.

The British-led team said they have identified five critical drilling errors - most notably a lack of steel casing around the well and the premature removal of the drill.

Professor Davies said they have also uncovered evidence of Lapindo trying to stop the mud flow by pumping heaving drilling mud into the well.

He claims the fact this slowed the eruption down is the first conclusive evidence that the bore hole was connected to the volcano at the time.

All efforts to stem-the-flow, including dams, levees and blocking the crater, have so far failed.