Australian oil and gas major Santos had received revised drilling plan approval for its $4.3bn (A$6.4bn) Barossa gas project off the coast of northern Australia.

In September 2022, Santos halted drilling work at the offshore field following a ruling by the Federal Court. The ruling follows claims by the Tiwi Islanders that the company did not sufficiently consult indigenous people.

The latest approval from the NOPSEMA follows further consultation by Santos with Tiwi Island people and other relevant persons.

In a press statement, Santos said: “Santos is proceeding with applications for all remaining approvals for the Barossa Gas Project.”

In November 2023, the Federal Court of Australia granted an interim injunction blocking Santos’ work on part of the pipeline until mid-January 2024.

The decision comes after Simon Munkara, a traditional land owner from the Tiwi Islands, filed for an injunction to suspend the pipeline project until its risk to underwater cultural heritage sites is properly assessed.

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By GlobalData

Santos, despite the various challenges, had earlier said it would commence production from the Barossa gas in the first half of 2025, reported Reuters.

Earlier this month, Santos said it was in initial talks with Australian oil and gas company Woodside over a potential merger.

Woodside said the talks between the parties are still “confidential and incomplete”. There is no certainty that a deal will materialise.

Perth-based Woodside is valued at around A$57bn. Santos, which is based in Adelaide, is valued at about A$22bn.

Located in the Timor Sea, 300km north of Darwin, the Barossa gas and condensate field is being developed together with the nearby Caldita field under the Barossa offshore development project.

Additionally, the Barossa project includes mooring of a floating production, storage, and offloading vessel and drilling of subsea production wells, along with the installation of associated subsea infrastructure and a new gas export pipeline.