Aussie court rejects Santos appeal to start Barossa drilling
The full federal court of Australia has rejected Santos’s appeal to start drilling at its $3.6bn Barossa gas project in the Timor Sea, the company said on December 2.
Santos had appealed against an Australian federal court decision in September that had set aside the acceptance by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) of an environmental plan covering the drilling activities in relation to the Barossa gas project.
The court's decision was based on a finding that NOPSEMA could not be lawfully satisfied that the plan met the criteria required by the regulations and that Santos consulted with each person that it was required by the regulations to consult with. Santos had to suspend drilling on the project in September post the federal court decision.
The relevant drilling activities were to occur at a site in the Timor Sea, approximately 140 km north of the Tiwi Islands. The drilling plan was challenged by a Tiwi Island traditional owner.
Commenting on the full federal court decision, Santos said it has consulted with traditional owners and their representative bodies on the Barossa project since 2016 and will continue to do so, “taking into account the guidance provided by the court”.
“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 judgment,” the company said. “Further, Santos will now proceed with applications for all remaining approvals in accordance with the guidance provided by the court."
Barossa's gas supplies are intended to extend the life of Santos's 3.7 mn metric tons/year Darwin LNG facility in the Northern Territory. The $3.6bn investment programme got underway with the project's final investment decision last March.
Santos said it does not anticipate any material cost or schedule impact, and first gas from the Barossa remains on track to be delivered in the first half of 2025.