Ship prospecting for oil off the coast of Fak Fak
Fak Fak is unusually bustling and changing these days. Landfill has been added at the port to extend the docks, and one new shop after another has been popping up along the harbour promenade. Nearly all the shops are Chinese-owned and run, and they carry a great variety of wares. All the important and official posts in the city are held by Non-Papuan who’ve been seconded to Fak Fak or have settled down here of their own accord.
In the afternoon we’re strolling down the pier when a big, well-appointed ship pulls in. It’s the first time in six weeks I’ve seen a white face – and five of them at that! Five tired, unfriendly, grim-looking men in their mid-50s getting off the boat and into a bus. I ask one of them – who reminds me of John Wayne – what they’re doing in these parts. “Looking for oil and gas,” the tan unshaven Australian curtly replies. “Found any yet?” I inquire politely. “No, not yet!” he grumbles grimly before rushing off to the airport on the bus with his four disgruntled mates.
In the evening we’re sitting at the Angelo, a restaurant run by a Chinese woman. At the next table over sits a Papua and we ask him what he thinks of the oil rush. The drilling, he explains, is carried out not far from Fak Fak using devices that send soundwaves deep down into the sea bed, which wipes out the fish. The Papuas, he added, won’t benefit much from the upcoming boom either. Others will reap the profits. The Australians and Europeans, the newcomers and powers that be in Jakarta. All he’ll be left with is dead fish!