The Australian government regulator has disallowed Thai company PTT Exploration and Production Public Co. Ltd.’s plans to drill a new production well in Montara oil field in the Timor Sea on environmental grounds.
The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) said it was not “reasonably satisfied” with the environmental procedures submitted by the company.
Montara suffered a major blowout and fire in 2009 that resulted in millions of litres of oil leaking into the surrounding Timor Sea region for 74 days (OGJ Online, Nov. 2, 2009).
PTTEP had proposed drilling another production well later this year to extend the life of the field, however NOPSEMA said the environmental plan for the well was not appropriate for the nature and scale of the action. It said the plan did not demonstrate that the environmental impact and risks of the activity would be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable.
PTTEP now has 30 days to respond to these concerns and resubmit an amended environmental plan. This will put pressure on its timetable for beginning the drilling campaign in September.