Australia Establishes Commission to Probe Timor Oil Spill

4 November 2009 (Last Updated November 4th, 2009 18:30)

Australia has established a commission that will probe the Timor Sea oil spill, which involves roughly 30,000 barrels of oil. Australia’s former environment secretary David Borthwick will head an investigation into the incident, which occurred in the Montara field, energy minister Marti

Australia has established a commission that will probe the Timor Sea oil spill, which involves roughly 30,000 barrels of oil.

Australia’s former environment secretary David Borthwick will head an investigation into the incident, which occurred in the Montara field, energy minister Martin Ferguson said.

Borthwick must provide information concerning the cause of the oil spill and evaluation of the response by April next year, according to Bloomberg.

On 3 November the leak was halted by the well operator PTT Exploration & Production (PTTEP) which stopped a fire that broke out at the West Atlas drilling rig.

“While the spill has damaged the standing of Australia’s oil and gas industry, it has a strong safety record and there is no need for new exploration proposals to be delayed during the probe,” Ferguson said.

The probe will ascertain if there is a need to amend Australia's oil and gas exploration and production laws.

PTTEP has not explained the cause of the spill 2,600m below the seabed, which will be evaluated by the commission, he said.

The oil from the leakage has not spread to the Australian and Indonesian coasts, no new oil is spreading into the environment and no dispersants are being used to mitigate it.

According to PTTEP, nearly 400 barrels a day of oil may have leaked between 21 August and 3 November, possibly totalling nearly 4,140t.