PTTEP objects to seaweed farmers using word "oil" in class action

THAI oiler PTTEP, which was responsible for the massive Montara oil spill in commonwealth waters off the northern coast of Western Australia, is back in court facing a class action from 15,500 Indonesian seaweed farmers who are claiming alleged damages caused by the spill.
PTTEP objects to seaweed farmers using word "oil" in class action PTTEP objects to seaweed farmers using word "oil" in class action PTTEP objects to seaweed farmers using word "oil" in class action PTTEP objects to seaweed farmers using word "oil" in class action PTTEP objects to seaweed farmers using word "oil" in class action

The West Atlas rig was destroyed in the explosion.

On August 21, 2009, the Montara-H1 well blew out on the wellhead platform. An uncontrolled spill continued spewing between 400-2,000 barrels of oil per day into the Timor Sea until November 3, 2009 after a relief well was drilled and the leak was stopped.

According to estimates from Geoscience Australia at the time, more than 2,000 bopd was spilled into the surrounding water each day. However PTTEP claims it was 400bopd.

The thousands of seaweed farmers, from Indonesia's East Nusa Tengara province, allege that the spill significantly hindered lucrative seaweed farming areas and are seeking damaged for the immediate destruction of their crops caused by the spill and an alleged subsequent decline in production caused by oil pollution.

PTTEP claims oil from the disaster never reached the Indonesian coastline, and that 98% was confined to Australian waters.

Late last month during an interlocutory hearing, PTTEP objected to the seaweed farmers, represented by Maurice Blackburn, from using the word "oil" throughout the case.

PTTEP, which is represented by law firm Allens, is arguing that the seaweed farmers were not qualified to identify oil, according to legal publication Lawyerly.

Queens Counsel Charles Scerri, who is the barrister defending PTTEP instructed by Allens, said the "crucial dispute" in the case was "whether it was oil, and specifically whether it was Montarra oil" that affected the seaweed farmer's crops.

PTTEP also moved to have an expert's report excluded from evidence arguing that it was based on unreliable data and hearsay from the seaweed farmers.

Justice David Yates is presiding over the case.

According to the Commonwealth Courts Portal, the case is expected to return to court on the 17th of this month.

PTTEP no longer holds the Montara oil field, having sold the field to Jadestone Energy, which brought the field back into production early this year.