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Australia Blazing Oil Rig May Collapse

Posted by feww on November 2, 2009

Would a Responsible Govt Allow Such Ecocide Continue for So Long?

Australia Oil Rig May Collapse, Fire Out of Control: PTTEP

On August 23, 2009 FEWW asserted that the Australian Oil Disaster May Get a Lot Worse

It has, and there’s no sign of abating.

Oil Rig Fire PTTEP
West Atlas oil rig and Montara wellhead platform on fire. Photo supplied by PTTEP via

Australian government’s silence to the ongoing ecological disaster in Timor Sea has been deafening, their inaction dazzling, their incompetence deplorable and devastating for the region, planet.

Just over 10 weeks after the leak started on August 21, 2009, the size of the oil slick spewing out of a  ruptured pipe at the West Atlas oil rig, which caught fire on Sunday, had grown to about 30,000 km².

Based on all the information they have received, FEWW Moderators believe some 29,000 tons of oil and gas condensate have been leaked into Timor Sea so far.

A laboratory analysis conducted by the Indonesian Environmental Impact Management Agency (NTT Bapedalda) on Oct. 10, 2009 found that the  seawater contained 107.2 milligrams of crude oil per liter.

“We believe the pollution was caused by an oil spill from the Montara oil field in the Timor Sea,” the head of NTT Bapedalda, Alexander Oematan, told reporters in the provincial capital of Kupang on Wednesday.


n18mer124_DDC - lg
More than 10 weeks after a blowout at a newly dug oil well, crude oil and gas condensate continued to leak into the Timor Sea, between northwest Australia and Indonesia. This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite shows the Timor Sea on October 28, 2009.
NASA image courtesy the MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey, NASA’s Earth Observatory. Edited by FEWW.

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2 Responses to “Australia Blazing Oil Rig May Collapse”

  1. feww said

    East Timor wants compo for oil spill fallout

    East Timor wants compensation from the Australian Government for any environmental damage caused by an oil leak from a rig in the Timor Sea.

    The Montara oil rig, which is 250 kilometres from East Timor’s coastline, was expelling 400 barrels of oil a day for two months until the leak was stopped earlier this week.

    East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta says the spill is the responsibility of the Australian Government and the Thai company that owns the platform.

    Dr Ramos-Horta is calling for Australian environmental groups to help assess if the spill has caused any damage to East Timor’s maritime area and says he will seek compensation for any negative effects to his country’s environment.

    ABC Radio’s PM program has seen statements provided by several Indonesian fishermen who say their livelihoods have been seriously affected by oil.

    They have spoken of a slick appearing at their fishing grounds and some of them have had no catch as a result. Some have had to borrow money to get by.

    The Australian Government says only small patches of “weathered oil” have gone into Indonesia’s economic zone, and that was about 100 kilometres from Roti.

    Today Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett would not comment directly today on reports of impacts in Indonesian waters.

    But he did say more work had started to determine the effects of the spill.

    “As soon as we receive the results from that work we will make them publicly available, as we did with the work done originally at my insistence,” he said.

    “I have always said that this is a very serious matter and we have treated it seriously.

    “We will make sure that every amount of relevant information in respect of environmental impacts is made available. If we think there’s a necessity for more information and for more work to be done, we will get it done.”

    The confirmed death toll of birds affected by the spill is now at 19 but Mr Garrett would not speculate on whether he thought the seemingly low death toll would increase by much.

    “I hope of course … that there’s minimal impact. So I’m not going to start speculating on whether there’ll be increases and what kind of increases there may or may not be,” he said.

    “We will make sure that we will continue to do the work that we undertook in the first instance as a consequence of this event.”

    Spill inquiry

    Today the Federal Government appointed a former senior public servant – former Environment Department secretary David Borthwick – to head a commission of inquiry into the oil spill.

    The company behind the rig, PTTEP Australasia, says it welcomes the opportunity for the facts to be placed on the public record.

    Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson says Mr Borthwick will have the power and the authority of a royal commission.

    “This inquiry’s about getting to the bottom of the cause of the incident and the manner in which it was handled,” he said.

    “It’s clearly now our responsibility to work with industry to assess the cause or causes of the incident and also make any necessary changes to the regulatory environment in Australia to try and avoid similar incidents in the future.”

    But Greens Senator Rachel Siewert is concerned Mr Borthwick does not have any judicial or investigative experience.

    She says the Government must guarantee the inquiry will be conducted in public.

    “Under the terms of reference and the process set up, it could be entirely done behind closed doors,” she said.

    “We don’t think that’s adequate so we’re seeking an absolute commitment that there will be a public inquiry.”

    Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett says that is up to the commissioner.

    “As to whether the commissioner determines to have public hearings or not in relation to the oil spill inquiry is a matter for him,” he said.

    “My expectation would be that he would give pretty open thought to the opportunity for public inquiry participation, but it’s a matter for the commissioner.”

    Opposition Environment spokesman Greg Hunt says the inquiry should also examine a separate gas leak in the oil spill region.

    “It’s inexplicable that the Government has excluded the seven-week cover up of the East Puffin gas leak,” he said.

    “This was a gas leak which was 50 kilometres from the West Atlas oil rig leak and yet we heard nothing for seven weeks.”

    Mr Borthwick is due to hand down his findings by April.

    © 2009 ABC

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