Balikpapan is a seaport city
on the eastern coast of Borneo island,
Indonesia in the East Kalimantan province, a resource-rich region well known for its
timber, mining and
petroleum export products.
harbors, Semayang and Kariangau - ferry harbour, and the Sepinggan
International Airport are the main transportation ports to access the
of the municipality of
Balikpapan is generally hilly (85%), with only small areas of
flatland (15%), particularly along the coast and surrounding the
hilly areas. The hills are less than 100 meters higher than the
adjacent valleys. The altitude of Balikpapan ranges from 0 to 80
meters above sea level.
Most of the soil in Balikpapan contains yellow-reddish podsolic soil
making it extremely prone to erosion.
Prior to early 1900s oil boom, Balikpapan was an isolated Bugis
fishing village. The etymology of Balikpapan's name (lit.
is behind and papan
is a plank) came from a
folk story where a local king threw his newborn daughter into the
sea to protect her against his enemies. The baby was tied beneath
some planks, which were discovered by a fisherman.
In 1897, the first drilling of oil began by a small refinery
company. Construction of roads, wharves, warehouses, offices,
barracks and bungalows started when a Dutch oil company arrived in
the area. On January 24, 1942, Balikpapan became a war theatre
between Japanese army
and the Allied Forces
in which the oil refinery and other facilities were heavily
damaged. Several campaigns followed until the 1945 Battle of Balikpapan
concluded the Allied Forces'
after which they took control of the Borneo
Extensive wartime damage curtailed almost all oil production in the
area until major repairs were performed by the Royal Dutch Shell
company. Shell continued
operating in the area until Indonesian state-owned Pertamina
took it over in 1965. Having a lack of
technology, skilled manpower and capital to explore the petroleum
region, Pertamina sublet petroleum concession contracts to
multinational companies in the 1970s.
Being the only oil refinery site in the region, Balikpapan emerged
as a revitalized center of petroleum production. Pertamina opened
its regional headquarter in the city, followed by branch offices
established by international oil companies. Hundreds of labourers
from other part of Indonesia, along with skilled expatriates who
served as managers and engineers, flocked into the city.
Balikpapan is bordered by the following:
During the Suharto
, Indonesia faced unprecedented growth of
economic expansion by promoting foreign investments, particularly
in the exploitation of natural and mineral resources. Although the
policy was heavily criticized for uncontrolled environmental
damages and corrupted bureaucrats and politicians, it significantly
boosted urban development in resource-rich cities. In 1970s,
Balikpapan experienced 7% population growth annually when exports
of timber and petroleum increased dramatically.
Some multinational corporations conduct business activities in East
Kalimantan province. Such companies as Pertamina
BakerHughes (US), Weatherford (US), THIESS (Australia), and
(US) use Balikpapan as the
base to operate their activities in the region. Governmental public
services also attract many people to work in this area, with
presence of Bank Indonesia, Finance Department, Port of Semayang,
and several others.
Balikpapan oil refinery is located on the shore of Balikpapan Bay
and covers an area of 2.5 km². Established in 1922, it is the
oldest refinery in the area. It was destroyed in World War II
by the Allies of World War II
in 1950. The refinery has two subunits, Balikpapan I and Balikpapan
Balikpapan I consists of two raw oil
units that produce naphtha
, and residue and one
high-vacuum unit that produces 100 tonnes (approx 98 tons) of
oil distillate (POD), used as raw
material for wax factories. The wax itself has various grades and
is sold domestically and internationally.
Opened on November 1, 1983, Balikpapan II has a hydro-skimming
refinery and produces
, and diesel
has the largest airport on the Borneo island, the Sepinggan
It is also the busiest airport in
Kalimantan and permits large aircraft.
Airlines currently using the airport are Lion
, Merpati Nusantara
, Batavia Air
, Trigana Air
, Sriwijaya Air
routes), and Garuda Indonesia
, and Silk
airport is one of the nine principal locations in Indonesia used
for Muslims to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca, the
"Hajj". Between 1996 and 1997, the airport served
over 4,500 East Kalimantan pilgrims, and from 1997 to 1998, it
served pilgrims from East Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, Central
In addition to the airport, Balikpapan also has a seaport called
"Semayang". It serves commercial boats to many
destinations in Indonesia like Surabaya, Makassar, Jakarta, Pare Pare, and Manado.
, transportation using ships was very
popular. Today, due to more affordable and efficient airplane
tickets, more people shift towards airplanes.
Ferry is an alternative for travelling to other places within
coastal areas in East Kalimantan, such as Penajam