In an attempt to protect cultural heritage, the Australian Federal Court has passed a decision to block the installation of an undersea pipeline which represented the beginning of Santos Ltd’s $5.3 billion Barossa project.
The interim injunction granted by Justice Natalie Charlesworth now casts uncertainty over the company’s schedule of accomplishing first gas production at the project by early 2025.
This injunction followed an application by a traditional owner from the Tiwi Islands, Simon Munkara — whose lawyers stated that the 262 kilometre pipeline would pose a severe threat to the Indigenous community’s connection to their marine environment.
The hearing for the full case will be heard on 13 November 2023.
In response to Munkara’s application, the company will need to revise and resubmit the Environment Plan (EP) that was previously accepted by NOPSEMA in March 2020.
The company stated that the ruling has not drastically affected the project’s timeline, however, actions taken as a of the hearing will be crucial.
Santos’ share price has dropped by 3 per cent to US$7.51 since the ruling.
The pipelay vessel will hold in Darwin and no pipelay activity linked to the Barossa Gas Export Pipeline (GEP) will be undertaken during the interim injunction.
In addition to this event, Offshore Alliance spokesperson and AWU WA Branch Secretary Brad Gandy has come forward and stated that the alliance is urging Santos to guarantee income for the workers involved, despite the injunction and any further delays the project may experience.
“Many of the workers engaged by Santos left other jobs to take up these roles on the Barossa project.
“To date, Santos has failed to consult coorperatively with the Offshore Alliance as representative of the majority of workers onboard the Audacia and as the principal union in the sector.
“We call on Satos to change tack, start consulting with the union, and guarantee workers that their incomes will not be affected,” said Gandy.