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Exxon Mobil human rights abuses in Aceh, Indonesia

The cost of gas in terms of human rights. Complicity and impunity of the large gas company in the militarization and violence in the extraction area


In 1971, the Mobil Oil Corporation discovered one of the largest natural gas fields in the world in Arun, located in the Northern part of Indonesia's province Aceh. From this moment on, the company has been granted exclusive rights to explore and extract natural gas in the area by the government of Indonesia. When Mobil Oil merged globally with Exxon in 1999, Exxon Mobil became the largest petrochemical company in the world and also took over Mobil's operations in Aceh. The gas is processed and liquefied for shipping by a local company, PT Arun. ExxonMobil affiliates hold a 100% participating interest in the Arun Field.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Exxon Mobil human rights abuses in Aceh, Indonesia
State or province:Aceh (official name: Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam)
Location of conflict:Arun natural gas field
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Oil and gas refining
Specific commodities:Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project details

At its peak: 3.4 billion cubic feet of gas per day (1994) and around 130,000 barrels of condensate per day (1989)

Project area:Approx. 8,5 - 9 hectares
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:Around 4,7 million people (population of Aceh)
Start of the conflict:01/01/1976
Company names or state enterprises:ExxonMobil Corporation (Exxon) from United States of America
PT Arun from Indonesia
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Environment, Indonesia
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:International Labor Rights Forum:
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (undecided)
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Lawsuit is still going on. ExxonMobil is still exclusively operating the Arun gas field.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

US District Court for the District of Columbia, 30 September 2009, John Doe VIII, et al. v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al. - Memorandum Opinion

US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 12 January 2007, Doe et al. v. ExxonMobil

US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, 8 July 2011, John Doe VIII, et al. v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al. - Opinion of the Court

US District Court for the District of Columbia, 27 August 2008, John Doe, et al. v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al. - Memorandum & Opinion

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

McCULLOCH, Lesley (2003), Greed: The Silent Force of the Conflict in Aceh, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, October 2003

Indonesian LNG, Indonesian LNG Project Development Schedule, prepared by PETRAMINA, HUFFCO and MOBIL for LNG-5, 1990,
[click to view]

A Matter of Complicity? Exxon Mobil on Trial for its Role in Human Rights Violations in Aceh, Case Study Series, International Center for Transitional Justice, HRWG, KontraS, Imparsial, 2008,
[click to view]

ExxonMobil homepage, Aceh Production Operations,
[click to view]

Indonesia Oil & Gas Fields - North Sumatra - Mobil & Arun LNG, APS Review Gas Market Trends, 8 March 1999,
[click to view]

ExxonMobil lawsuit (re Aceh), Business & Human Rights Resource Center, 18 February 2014,
[click to view]

Meta information
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1758
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