PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Oil and gas giant Santos has lost its appeal in the Full Federal Court against a September decision by the Federal Court to set aside the acceptance by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (Nopsema) of an environmental plan covering the drilling and completion activities in relation to the Barossa gas project.
The Federal Court’s decision was based on a finding that Nopsema could not be lawfully satisfied that the drilling environment plan met the criteria required by the regulations and in particular failed to assess whether the drilling environment plan demonstrated that Santos consulted with each person that it was required by the regulations to consult with.
The relevant drilling activities were to occur at a site in the Timor Sea, 140 km north of the Tiwi Islands.
Tiwi Senior Lawman Dennis Tipakalippa launched the lawsuit in June 2022, arguing that Nopsema should not have approved Santos’ plans to drill the Barossa gasfield, because Santos failed to properly consult the Munupi Clan.
Traditional Owners told the court at the time that Santos’ Barossa offshore gas project posed a risk to food sources and continuous spiritual connection to Sea Country that has endured for millennia.
Santos on Friday insisted that the company had consulted with Traditional Owners and their representative bodies on the Barossa gas project since 2016 and would continue to do so, taking into account the guidance provided by the Court.
“With a range of cultural heritage and native title agreements across 23 Traditional Owner Groups and six Land Councils around Australia, Santos has a strong track record of working constructively and collaboratively with Traditional Owners,” the ASX-listed company said in a statement.
“Santos has always sought to meet its consultation responsibilities and is continuing the process of revising the drilling environment plan to address the matters contained in the judgement.
“Further, Santos will now proceed with applications for all remaining approvals in accordance with the guidance provided by the Court.”
As a result, Santos does not anticipate any material cost or schedule impact, and first gas from the Barossa gas project remains on track to be delivered in the first half of 2025.
The Barossa project comprises a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel, subsea production wells, supporting subsea infrastructure and a gas export pipeline tied into the existing Bayu-Undan to Darwin LNG pipeline.
Santos and its Barossa joint venture partners also recently took a final investment decision to proceed with the Darwin pipeline duplication process, which would extend the Barossa gas export pipeline to the Santos-operated Darwin liquefied natural gas (DLNG) facility and allow for the repurposing of the existing Bayu-Undan to Darwin pipeline to facilitate carbon capture and storage options.
Gas from the Barossa field, located 300 km north of Darwin, is intended to replace the current supply from the Bayu-Undan facility located in Timor-Leste.
First gas production at DLNG using Barossa gas is targeted for the first half of 2025.