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Offshore Disaster Blamed on Well Owner

The worst offshore disaster in Australia’s history contributed to the third largest oil spill in that country. An Australian government report blames the operator of the oil well for the massive Montara oil spill in August 2009 off Australia’s northwest coast. The disaster led to oil and gas flowing steadily into the waters of the Timor Sea for about 10 weeks.

According to a report by Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson, the incident occurred because the oil company that owns the well did not follow approved control measures or well construction practices. According to the report the company PTTEP Australasia (Ashmore Cartier) Pvt. Ltd. failed to observe sensible practices at the Montara oilfield. The report details a number of shortcomings and says that these were widespread in the company. The report also says that the Australian government is considering a review of PTTEP’s offshore license. It also expresses concern at the fact that PTTEP has continued operating oil wells since the disaster.

There was special criticism for the processes of the company, which the report found to be highly “deficient.” According to the report, key personnel of the company were incompetent, and the blowout was, in fact, an event that was to be expected. The report categorically states that if the PTTEP AA or the Northern Territory-designated authority had complied with all requirements, the blowout could have been prevented.

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