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.
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.
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 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
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?
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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