Insights and Commentaries

Insights and Commentaries

Early public engagement on Indonesia’s CCS Gundih Pilot Project

15th April 2015

Topic(s): Carbon capture, Public engagement, use and storage (CCUS)

In April 2015, Dr Farah Mulyasari from the Bandung Institute of Technology in Indonesia gave Global CCS Institute staff and Australian-based Members a presentation on the public engagement strategy associated with Indonesia’s ‘Gundih CCS Project’. Indonesia has abundant primary energy resources in the form of oil, natural gas, and coal which are used for domestic and export requirements. The Indonesian Government plans to rapidly expand the domestic use of coal for electricity generation. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) could potentially play an important role in Indonesia’s emission reduction strategies. The key messages from her presentation are summarised in this Insight below.

Jakarta in Java, Indonesia at night. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons CC-BY 2.0

The Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Gundih Pilot Project is being carried out at the Gundih gas field, located in Blora District, Central Java Province. The project will consist of the capture of CO2 from the Central Processing Plant (CPP), transport and injection into the Gundih storage reservoir. Project commencement is planned for the end of 2015. Around 20,000 tonnes of CO2 over two years will be injected underground as part of the project. In another Insight Dr Rachmat Sule discusses the technical details of the project.

Prior to the injection process, several studies have been conducted to support the project. These included;

  • sub-surface investigation and modelling,
  • surface facilities study,
  • baseline geophysical surveys,
  • CCS regulatory framework and
  • preliminary public engagement studies.

The preliminary public engagement studies are the focus of this Insight. At the commencement of the CCS Gundih Pilot Project, CO2 capture and storage was largely unknown to the Indonesian public, including policy developers, community leaders, non-governmental organisations, educators, and communities in Blora. Early stages of the public engagement study revealed little public familiarity and understanding of the term “CO2 storage”. Therefore, the project decided to involve the local public in the communication and consultation around planned CCS activities in their area.

Through public engagement, the CCS Gundih Pilot Project aims to understand, anticipate and address public perceptions and concerns regarding CO2 capture and storage in the project area. As the first step in the development of a comprehensive public engagement strategy, a preliminary public engagement plan was developed. It consists of the following building blocks:

  1. stakeholder mapping including social site characterisation,
  2. opinion shaping factors,
  3. arguments mapping,
  4. messaging framework,
  5. local media landscape, and
  6. CCS Gundih Pilot Project communication actions.

During the development of the preliminary public engagement plan, the Gundih CCS project team visited the Blora District several times to conduct its social site characterisation, interviews and discussions with the main stakeholders, which included:

  • Local Government of the Blora District, including Sub-districts and Village Leaders and Service Agencies.
  • Community Representatives: including Community Based Organisations (CBOs), Elders/Heads of Community and Local Non-Governmental Organisations.
  • Media including DIVA Blora (Local newspaper) and Community Radio.
  • State-owned Companies including Local; PERTAMINA, CEPU, PERHUTANI and Regional; Jawa Tengah (Forest Management State-owned Company).

These stakeholders are influential for the planned CCS Gundih Project and will help determine its course. Communication with the above-mentioned stakeholders showed that although most of them are familiar with climate change and its impact, they had not heard about CCS, nor knew how CCS could help in mitigating climate change. They have shown great interest in further understanding the CCS technology and would welcome educational materials and tools.

Interviews suggest that the opinion about the Gundih project will be influenced by the value the project can bring to the local population. Project stakeholders recognise positive project impacts, such as reduction of CO2 emissions, CCS capacity building in Indonesia and economic and image benefits for the Blora District in particular. The public engagement team suggests that positive framing (especially stressing benefits for the local population) should be a basic principle for future communication by the Gundih CCS project leadership.

It should be noted that stakeholders have expressed concerns regarding potential negative impacts of the project, such as increased traffic due to CO2 transport, earthquakes triggered by CO2 injection in the storage formation, potential CO2 leakage from the formation and safety risks associated with CO2. It is important to make sure that all stakeholders’ concerns are addressed in any future public engagement activities. Local leaders have indicated that they would like to be involved in further stakeholder engagement and indicated that they would value support and guidance in doing so. They would like to facilitate a dialogue between the CCS Gundih Pilot Project team and the community, and to help monitor/supervise CCS activities in the area by accompanying the project team on site, and be CCS educators for the local population.

In terms of the messaging framework, CCS Gundih Pilot Project communication is framed around the benefit of reducing a significant amount of CO2 emissions from large point sources like power plants, refineries, emissions intensive industries, etc to combat climate change and the benefit that early involvement in CCS will have for Indonesia. The project team has organised Focus Group Discussions with key local stakeholders where the team explained what CCS is and what CCS activities are to be implemented in the area. The aim was to communicate with the stakeholders in an easy, understandable manner, avoiding complicated technical/scientific language.

There are important lessons obtained from the preliminary public engagement activities in Blora. These are as follows:

  • Public engagement should be an integral component of project management. Despite the fact that conducting effective public engagement will not necessarily ensure the technical success of the project, it can help to minimise objections which can hold up schedules and increase costs. It facilitates community goodwill and acceptance, which does impact on the overall success of the project.
  • Effective public outreach in CCS involves listening to individuals and groups of people, sharing information, and addressing concerns through proactive community engagement. This should include advancing Blora’s local resources and local media as channels to communicate about current and future CCS activities.
  • Results indicate that the local population has a high level of trust in the government. Currently, the Blora District government has expressed their support for the project. It is important to ensure continued engagement with the governmental bodies in the district and actively involve government in communications with the public.
  • In order to ensure the local public’s trust, the same project representatives should be involved in further communication activities.


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