Chevron concerned about 4 workers held in Indonesia

Jakarta — Chevron Pacific Indonesia (CPI), a subsidiary of U.S. oil and gas giant Chevron, is deeply concerned by the arrest of four employees held in an investigation into alleged corruption on an environmental project, the company said on Thursday.

The Indonesian attorney general’s office detained the employees late on Wednesday as part of a months-long probe into a Chevron project at a site in Sumatra to treat oil-contaminated soil with micro-organisms.

The company is Indonesia’s largest oil producer with total daily production averaging 442,000 barrels of liquids in 2011, according to Chevron’s website.

“We are deeply concerned that employees of PT Chevron Pacific Indonesia have been detained. All costs relating to the ongoing CPI-operated bioremediation project have been incurred by PT CPI and … no state funds have been used,” Chevron said in a statement.

Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest economy but businesses complain of government corruption and say uncertain legal and regulatory risks hamper investment.

The attorney general’s office named seven suspects in March who it said took money for the project in a cost-recovery process for work that was not completed, according to local media.

“Once the investigation concludes, the detention (of the suspects) will advance to a prosecution and the case will be passed on to the court,” attorney general’s office spokesman Mohamad Adi Toegarisman said.

Oil and gas regulator BPMigas was expected to pay the $23.4 million cost of the project under a contract. A spokesman for BPMigas declined to comment.

Chevron said the investigation should have been handled by BPMigas and the state auditor’s office rather than by the attorney general.

The employees include the project’s environmental manager. Two contractors were also arrested in addition to the four, the attorney general’s office said.[]

Reuters

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