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Court puts Barossa gas export pipeline work on hold

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Court puts Barossa gas export pipeline work on hold Santos

Australian energy major Santos has been given an interim injunction by the Federal Court of Australia to prevent it from laying the Barossa Gas Export Pipeline (GEP).

This decision to block the Barossa pipeline laying until November 13, 2023, is in connection with an application by Simon Munkara seeking an order that Santos revise and resubmit the environment plan (EP) that was accepted by the country’s offshore regulator NOPSEMA in March 2020.

Munkara alleges that laying the GEP will impact submerged Tiwi cultural heritage, creating a new environmental risk.

“Santos has complied with a general direction issued by the regulator NOPSEMA in January 2023 concerning impacts on underwater cultural heritage places to which Indigenous people have spiritual and cultural connections,” the company said in a statement on Thursday.

“An independent expert anthropologist concluded there were no such underwater cultural heritage places, following interviews with around 170 Tiwi people and extensive archaeological and anthropological literature and studies. These studies included consideration of independent expert archaeological, geological and sedimentological assessment of the pipeline route,” Santos added.

The company claimed that it updated the EP to reflect the recommendations of the independent expert anthropologist, through its approved management of change process which is part of the GEP EP.

The Court will sit again on November 13 to determine whether to extend the injunction until the final hearing, which will be held on an expedited basis.

The pipelay vessel will be held in Darwin and no pipelay activity linked to the GEP will be undertaken during the interim injunction. Guidance on the Barossa cost and schedule, Santos said, remains unchanged. The company will assess any impact on the schedule and cost of the Barossa Gas Project if the injunction is extended beyond November 13.

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