Australian oil and gas company Santos has confirmed a previously unannounced pipeline explosion on 25 January in Southern Australia, alongside seeing disputes at its annual general meeting (AGM).
The incident occurred at the Big Lake gas field in the Cooper Basin, which lies approximately 800km north of Adelaide. Investigations into the cause of the explosion are still under way.
The Australian government’s Department for Energy and Mining (DEM) received notice of the incident, but did not notify the public.
According to South Australia energy and mining minister Tom Koutsantonis: “We don’t report every incident that occurs unless there was an impact. There were no impacts, no injuries, there was no environmental damage done, there were no spillages, this is no different to any other incident.”
Santos is unclear on the amount of natural gas leaked from the pipeline, which has a capacity of 60 million cubic feet per day. The pipeline runs connects the Moomba processing facility to Port Bonython, 200km north-east of Adelaide.
Santos chief executive Kevin Gallagher has defended the length of the investigation stating: “sometimes the metallurgical studies that you have to go through can take a little bit of time”.
Santos claims that the damage to the pipeline was stress related. The company says that repairs were completed in a week, in addition to a further fortnight of inspections on the entire pipeline.
Three Santos managers and two onsite workers described the explosion as a “major incident” in an anonymous statement to Energy News. According to one of these sources the pipeline was “heavily corroded” due to “infrequent inspections”.
The DEM requires Santos to submit a full report of the incident by April 25. The report will be reviewed as part of DEM’s own investigations.
Indigenous groups attend AGM
The same day, a group of First Nations people attended Santos’ AGM to express anger at several company projects. These included the Barossa gas field north-west of Darwin and the Narrabri project in western New South Wales.
The group included Gomeroi people from New South Wales and Tiwi Islanders who told reporters that they felt “disrespected” during the meeting as their microphones were turned off.
Emerging elder Deborah Briggs from the Narrabri community told ABC: “We didn’t feel safe in there, we didn’t feel respected, they are lying to their shareholders, they are lying to the Gomeroi people, to the wider population”.
Chair of the Board of Directors at Santos, Keith Spence told ABC: “There were a lot of questions on Gomeroi and a lot of questions on Barossa and the Tiwi Islands specifically. They had probably more opportunity to ask questions than anyone else in the room”.
Santos came under fire earlier this week when First Nations groups lobbied Australian and International banks to withdraw a $1bn loan for the development of the Barossa offshore project. Campaigners highlighted a number of human rights grievances to the banks, saying that their financing supported Santos’ alleged wrongdoing.
Earlier this month, Santos’ UK-based investor Snowcap criticised the company for “misguided and reckless growth strategy” including the approval of a one-off $6m growth incentive bonus for the company’s CEO Kevin Gallagher.