Fire Earth

Mass die-offs from human impact and planetary response to the assault could occur by early 2016

Australian Oil Disaster May Get a Lot Worse

Posted by feww on August 23, 2009

No Worries, It’s Only Crude Oil!

Leaking offshore Australian oil well will probably spill into Timor Sea until October

A leaking offshore Australian oil well will probably spill crude  oil into the Timor Sea for the next two months before it can be plugged, according to the Rig operator PTTEP Australasia.

According to various reports the crew of 69 aboard the rig were evacuated shortly after the leak was detected.

The leak would cause tremendous harm to the wildlife in the region.

Australia Oil Spill
In this image taken from a footage shot by AuBC/CH7/CH9 as pool and distributed via APTN, white smoke billows from an oil rig 2 off northwest coast in Australia, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2009. A plane loaded with chemical dispersants rushed Saturday toward a slick spilling from an oil rig in remote waters off Australia’s northwest coast. (AP Photo/AuBC/CH7/CH9, POOL via APTN). Image may be subject to copyright.

The leak began on Friday after the well was ruptured some  3,500 meters below sea level, PTTEP Australasia said, adding that they plan to drill a relief well to intersect the existing well and stop its flow by pouring in mud to cement the leak.

The company said that it would take 20 days to bring a new offshore drilling rig from Singapore, and another four weeks to drill the new well.

The spill is now about 25 km long and at least 45 meters wide. The operator refuses to say how much oil is being spilled into the Timor Sea.

Australia Oil Spill
In this image taken from a footage shot by AuBC/CH7/CH9 as pool and distributed via APTN, white smoke billows from an oil rig 2 with a slick of oil off northwest coast in Australia, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2009. A plane loaded with chemical dispersants rushed Saturday toward a slick spilling from an oil rig in remote waters off Australia’s northwest coast. (AP Photo/AuBC/CH7/CH9, POOL via APTN). Image may be subject to copyright.

“Environmentalists have expressed concern about the giant slick, saying the entire area is ecologically significant and part of an ‘ocean super highway’ for migrating animals between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.” Reuters reported.

“Many breathe air and could surface in the oil, an official of WWF Australia said.”

“From a global scale this is one of the most important places on the planet for ocean wildlife,” Reuters reported Gilly Llewelyn, WWF Australia’s director of conservation as saying.

The area is regarded as  “critical migration routes,”  like an “oceanic super highway,” she said, adding that three endangered species of turtles, as well as sea snakes, and pygmy blue whales may be affected.

The spill reportedly occurred at the Montara development, which was scheduled to start  production by the end of 2009.  “The West Atlas drilling unit is owned by Norway’s SeaDrill Ltd, but operated by PTTEP Australasia.” Reuters reported.

oil slick
Oil leak coming from the offshore West Atlas oil rig (top), Montara Project, about 255km off the north Kimberley coast of Western Australia state. Image: AFP. Image may be subject to copyright.

According to an aerial photo released by AFP the center of the slick is located at  12° 35.645′ S, 124° 49.000′E, about 255km off the north Kimberley coast of Western Australia state.

The Montara Project: A Leaky Dream?

The following information is from Coogee Resources website

Overview

The Company intends to develop the Montara Project via an FPSO located at the Montara field with tie-backs to the Skua and Swift/Swallow fields via flowlines. The development plan for the Montara Project involves nine producing wells, of which six will be drilled in Phase 1 (currently scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of 2008) and three will be drilled in Phase 2 (currently scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of 2009). Coogee Resources has commenced work on the design, engineering and procurement activities for the Montara Project. Facility construction began in July 2007 and development drilling is scheduled to commence in early 2008.

Location and geography

The Montara, Skua and Swift/Swallow oil fields are located in the southern Timor Sea approximately 650km west of Darwin. This section of the Timor Sea is administered by the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry Fisheries and Mines (NTDPIFM) within Australian territory and is free from any potential issues of sovereignty.

The Montara oil field is approximately 82 kilometres south-west of the existing operations at Challis. The Skua oil field is located 25 kilometres north-west of the Montara oil field and the Swift/Swallow oil field is located 9 kilometres south-east of the Skua field.

Montara Project Development Schematic

Image and introduction material may be subject to copyright.


Coogee Resources Exploration Focus Areas. Image and introduction material may be subject to copyright.

What caused the rupture?

Timor Plate
Map of Timor Plate. Original map license:  CC-BY-SA

Drilling at the edge of abyss. FEWW believes that the rupture in the well occurred as a result of the recent intense seismic activity in the northern and central sections of Sunda Trench to the northwest of the Montara oil field, as well as ongoing moderate seismic activity on Timor Plate boundaries. The region is one of the most active segments of the Pacific Ring of fire, the one place you wouldn’t want to drill for oil. NO sane geologist or geophysicist/field seismologist would recommend drilling activity in the area. You have been warned!

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15 Responses to “Australian Oil Disaster May Get a Lot Worse”

  1. Asep Abdul Hamid Holili said

    Please send me some alert if there were some earthquake prediction would hit hard Indonesia /eurasia plate via email : asepsketch@ymail.com or via face book : asepsketch

    I would spread all hazards data directly to mr President SBY cell and TV/Radio station as soon as possible.

    Thank you very much for preventing mass earth victims.

    Best regards,
    Asep
    62 022 91323778

    • feww said

      Mr Holili

      Thank you for interest in FEWW. Unfortunately, the blog doesn’t operate an email service.

      However, to view the latest posts, you can subscribe to the blog. To subscribe, please CLICK on the **Entries (RSS)** link located in the right-hand side bar and FOLLOW on-screen instructions.

      Best wishes,
      SCA for the Moderators

  2. John Amos said

    Thanks for helping to get the word out – it’s a mystery why this has not been covered by major TV and print media here in the US. Satellite images of this spill clearly show the vast areas in the Timor Sea being affected by this spill. Check in with the SkyTruth blog and image gallery to see the latest.

    • feww said

      It’s beginning to look like a chronic disease, which would harm Timor sea ecosystems immeasurably.

      Most people here are only concerned when it happens in their back yard.

  3. edro said

    Oil threat to Australia wildlife

    By Phil Mercer, BBC News, Sydney
    Sunday, 13 September 2009 04:28 UK
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8252982.stm

    Environmentalists have warned that an oil slick caused by an accident on a rig in the Timor Sea is threatening wildlife in Australian waters.

    Oil has been flowing from the West Atlas platform for three weeks.

    Safety authorities have been using chemicals to try to break up the spill but warn it could be at least two more weeks before the leak is plugged.

    Up to 400 barrels of oil per day have been pouring into the Timor Sea to Australia’s north.

    An emergency rig has arrived from Singapore to repair the damage and aircraft and boats have been dousing the slick with dispersants.

    Fragile environment

    The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has said that this has helped to contain the spread of oil, the bulk of which remains around the drilling platform thanks, in part, to benign weather conditions.

    Officials have stated that the slick is about 170km (100 miles) from the Australian coast.

    Environmental groups believe the contamination poses a significant threat to wildlife and is heading towards land.

    Piers Verstegen, from the Conservation Council of Western Australia, says the spill – off the north coast of the Kimberley region where whales congregate – is an ecological disaster.

    “Humpback whales, an endangered species, go to that area and that region to calf and give birth and this oil spill is happening just off the Kimberley coast,” Mr Verstegen said.

    “The oil, as far as we are aware, is travelling towards the Kimberley coastline but it is definitely affecting areas that are used by these whales and dolphins.”

    Fishermen have reported seeing endangered flatback turtles covered in oil.

    There have also been claims that fish and sea-snakes have been poisoned.

    Conservationists believe that, in its rush to exploit abundant natural resources, Australia risks inflicting irreparable damage on its fragile environment. BBC © MMIX

  4. feww said

    Major Ecological Disaster Underway in Timor Sea
    http://feww.wordpress.com/2009/09/03/australian-oil-slick-satellite-images/

  5. Pete said

    I have never been one to stand on a soap box and rant and rave, but what the public do not realise is that the majority of this oil is not even reaching the surface, it is lying in the depths in a cold compressed state which will eventually work it’s way like a snake along the bottom until it reaches warmer currents, which will then disperse itself upon whatever is in it’s path.
    I am in the U.S. at the moment and amazingly no one has heard of this. I have just finished speaking with some friends who are from NOAA, they are not even aware this is going on, they are now and will be looking into it.

  6. Pete said

    I have viewed a few photo’s of this rig and it’s oil spill as recent as the 29/08, but I still fail to see any oil booms deployed to contain this slick. At least it would look like they were trying to make an effort in saving marine life.

  7. feww said

    Magnitude 6.8 EQ Strikes BANDA SEA
    http://feww.wordpress.com/2009/08/28/magnitude-6-8-eq-strikes-banda-sea/

  8. feww said

    Earthquake Forecast: Timor Sea
    A Magnitude 7.4 Earthquake Could Strike Timor Sea Region
    http://feww.wordpress.com/2009/08/27/earthquake-forecast-timor-sea/

  9. Matthew Libbis said

    Any word on whether this spill poses any threat to Timor’s southern coast?

    • feww said

      No ‘official’ word on the possibility yet, as far as we know. However, Timor’s southern coast is only about 250 km or so away from the rig. Based on common sense AND knowledge of previous spills, and judging by how long the company said it would take to plug the leak, it’s quite likely that Timor, too, would incur some damage.

  10. feww said

    “Environmental groups are urging the Federal Government to reconsider energy projects in Western Australia after Friday’s oil rig blowout off the state’s coast.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/08/24/2664260.htm

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