PTTEP crew not prepared for oil spill at Montara, regulator says

Australia’s offshore petroleum safety body NOPSEMA has issued an improvement notice to PTTEP Australasia regarding environmental management non-compliance associated with its Montara field operations.

The regulator said the move was not related to an oil spill incident, but to incident prevention. Namely the watchdog said that PTTEP’s emergency management personnel was not properly trained and competent to coordinate and manage an oil spill response as required by the accepted environment plan.

To remind, this is the same field in the Timor Sea where PTTEP experienced a well control incident in 2009, leading to an uncontrolled release of oil and gas into the marine environment lasting 74 days.

Personnel not trained


“The enforcement action taken by NOPSEMA was preventative and not in response to an oil spill incident. The action has been taken to ensure sufficient response capability, as it relates to the competency, skills and knowledge of emergency management personnel, is in place to respond effectively in the event of an oil spill,” the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority said on Friday.

In response, NOPSEMA has issued an improvement notice requiring PTTEP AA to put mechanisms in place to address the non-compliance by ensuring the necessary competency, skills and knowledge are developed and maintained.

In the improvement notice the regulator said that, in the event of an oil spill, there was a threat of increased exposure of spilled oil to the environment as a result of unnecessary delays in the implementation of, or incorrect application of, oil spill response strategies and techniques due to PTTEP AA’s insufficient capacity to coordinate and management an oil spill response. Such delays would preclude the avoidance or minimization of oil spill impacts on the marine environment.

90 days to comply


PTTEP AA has up to 90 days to comply with the improvement notice, and the notice ceases to have effect when PTTEP AA fully complies with the requirements of the notice.

In addition, PTTEP AA is required to submit proposed revisions to its Environment Plan for assessment by NOPSEMA within 90 days. The proposed revisions will be considered in accordance with NOPSEMA’s normal assessment processes.

Since NOPSEMA’s formation in 2012, it has conducted 18 inspections of PTTEP AA’s Montara operations covering environmental and safety management. “NOPSEMA will continue to closely monitor Montara operations and take necessary actions to ensure that compliance is maintained on an ongoing basis,” the regulator said.