Probe launched after oil sheen appears near West Tuna platform

Australia’s offshore regulator Nopsema has launched an investigation into the source of an oil sheen that appeared near the West Tuna platform offshore Australia. 

According to a report by the regulator, on February 1, 2017, Nopsema was informed by Esso Australia Resources of an identified oil sheen adjacent to the West Tuna platform, located in Commonwealth waters in the Bass Strait, 45km off the Gippsland coast, Victoria. Esso is an Australian affiliate company of the U.S. oil major ExxonMobil.

The West Tuna oil export pipeline was depressurised overnight, and the pipeline will remain shut down while the source of the spill is investigated, the agency said on Thursday.

Nopsema further added that the oil spill modeling undertaken on February 1 indicated that the spill was likely to dissipate by the morning of February 2. Aerial observations undertaken on February 2 did not detect any visible sheens of oil on the surface of the water. No affected wildlife has been detected by Esso or reported to Nopsema.

“Nopsema has launched an investigation into this matter, and cannot comment on any specific aspect of the investigation while it is ongoing,” the agency concluded.

Startup of the $4.5 billion Kipper Tuna Turrum project began in 2013 with production of natural gas from the Tuna field via two new pipelines in June and first oil being produced from the Turrum field through the new Marlin B platform in October.

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