A spokesperson from the Commonwealth regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority, told Energy News de-staffing the Northern Endeavour floating storage production and offloading vessel was allowed under the vessel's approved safety case and the move had reduced immediate safety risks to zero.
"The facility is now unmanned, in ‘lighthouse' mode, with navigational aids operational, the wells suspended, and other controls being applied," the spokesperson said.
"While the facility is not producing and with the wells suspended, any immediate environmental risks are reduced."
The FPSO had been run with a small skeleton crew since production was shut in last year.
NOPSEMA's spokesperson said crew removal may occur for maintenance reasons, to avoid cyclone disturbance in the area, or for other emergency management reasons.
"For cyclone avoidance, facilities typically de-man for the period that is necessary for weather conditions to subside and facility crew to be safely transported to the facility," he said.
For other reasons, such as this case, the spokesperson said the period would vary and was determined by the operator in accordance with the safety case.
KPMG, which has administered three companies in the NOGA group since it entered voluntary administration in late September, was asked by Energy News why the crew was removed but it did not respond.
Creditors will meet in Perth this Friday to vote on KPMG's recommendation that the companies be put into liquidation.
The meeting was initially called for January 31, then moved to Monday February, 3 before the latest delay.
KPMG outlined why it recommended liquidating the companies in a voluntary administrator's report that will be considered at the creditor's meeting.
The administrators had not received an acceptable deed of company arrangement offer - a binding deal between the company and its creditors - and as the companies were insolvent ending the administration and returning to normal company operation was not an option.
Also, without additional funding, the administrators were "unable to continue to hold or operate the offshore facilities in compliance with the relevant regulations."
The report revealed that the companies, that are solely concerned with the Northern Endeavour and its Timor Sea oil fields, had lost more than US$100 million in the three years to December 2018.
The administrators concluded the companies were significantly undercapitalised, reliant from ongoing external debt funding, and lost all production revenue after NOPSEMA issued a direction to stop production until safety issues had been addressed last July.
There are still questions around who is liable for the large decommissioning costs related to the ageing FPSO, which NOGA purchased from Woodside Petroleum in 2016.
There is still a strong possibility they will be borne by the Australian taxpayer, something now-departed resources minister Matt Canavan was apparently staunchly against.
Energy News understands another oil field services company is interested in taking over the running of the shutdown vessel; however the costs to get it working would be in the hundreds of millions.