Northern Endeavour proof oilers can't be trusted: Environmental Groups

ENVIRONMENTAL groups Greenpeace Australia and the Wilderness Society have taken aim at the oil and gas industry this morning following a national regulator ‘prohibition notice’ which shut down the Northern Endeavour FPSO in commonwealth waters this week.
Northern Endeavour proof oilers can't be trusted: Environmental Groups Northern Endeavour proof oilers can't be trusted: Environmental Groups Northern Endeavour proof oilers can't be trusted: Environmental Groups Northern Endeavour proof oilers can't be trusted: Environmental Groups Northern Endeavour proof oilers can't be trusted: Environmental Groups

 

The organisations, which are running a heated campaign against Equinor's plans to drill an exploration well in the Great Australian Bight, say that the latest shutdown is proof that the oil and gas industry cannot be trusted to drill safely in the Bight.

"The truth is accidents and near-misses happen all the time in the oil industry especially when operating in extreme environments far offshore or in deep water - hence the concern with plans to go ahead with drilling in the incredibly hostile Great Australian Bight," Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner Nathaniel Pelle said.

"These sorts of incidents are rarely publicised, which means the companies responsible often get away with it and escape public scrutiny. Hopefully, this action indicates a willingness to enforce environmental laws more diligently."

This week the national regulator NOPSEMA, took the extraordinary measure of shutting down the Northern Endeavour FPSO over severe safety concerns after an inspection found the FPSO was in such a bad condition that a gas leak or "release of hydrocarbons" could catch fire, risking multiple lives.

Greenpeace said that the ‘stop work' notice was "rare" given that the regulator usually issued ‘improvement notices' and called on NOPSEMA to increase inspections.

"Before someone gets killed or we have another catastrophic oil disaster like the Deepwater Horizon, NOPSEMA should be increasing inspections and stepping in early more often," Pelle said.

Greenpeace's comments were echoed by fellow environmental group, The Wilderness Society, which also drew a line between the FPSO incident and Equinor's plans.

"This shutdown again underscores the huge risks associated with offshore oil and gas drilling, and that's a risk that the vast majority of Australians and coastal communities don't want to take with the marine wonder that is the Great Australian Bight," Wilderness Society campaigner Peter Owen said.

NOPSEMA said in its notice that it had ordered the shutdown due to an "immediate threat to health or safety" after contractual operator Upstream Production Solutions had failed to "adequately identify and rectify structural corrosion" at the facility.

"We will work with Upstream PS as Operator, and NOPSEMA, to fully understand the regulator's concerns and take the appropriate actions to resolve any issues," a Northern Oil spokesperson told Energy News this morning. 

According to information provided to Energy News from NOPSEMA, Upstream Production Solutions was given 24 - 48 hours to shut down the facility. 

Failure to comply with a prohibition notice can result in prosecution and financial penalty of up to $126,000 for failure to comply with the notice, plus $12,600 for each additional day the notice is not complied with.

Last month NOPSEMA asked Equinor to resubmit its Enviromental Plan for Stromlo-1, which Equinor suggested was a common occurance but which still drew criticsim from the same enviromental groups.