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Senate Estimates blows up over NOGA administration

30 Oct 2019 2:29 PM | Sonia Harvey (Administrator)

SENATE Estimates in Canberra heated up last week, with both Senator Pauline Hanson and Senator Rex Patrick putting the spotlight on the national offshore regulator’s conduct when ordering the shutdown of the Northern Endeavour FPSO in the Timor Sea offshore Western Australia earlier this year.

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority issued Northern Oil & Gas Australia (NOGA) a prohibition order in July over safety concerns.

The company owns the Northern Endeavour FPSO and two production licenses, WA-18-L and AC/L5, in the Timor Sea.

The contracted operator is Upstream Production Solutions.

The notice was issued shortly after an object fell from the vessel and corrosion was identified aboard. According to a NOPSEMA release the FPSO was in a condition that a "release of hydrocarbons" could catch fire, risking multiple lives.

However the two senators in Estimates believe NOPSEMA acted too soon and never physically inspected the vessel.

"NOPSEMA did not go and inspect the Northern Endeavour but relied on a desktop calculation that showed, if the four-kilo object had fallen from a height of four metres onto an unprotected head, then there would have been a fatality," Hanson said.

"You could have actually given an improvement notice rather than a prohibition, which shut down the company."

The statement was taken as a ‘question on notice.'

Months after the notice NOGA and its associated subsidiary companies TOGA Services and Timor Sea Oil & Gas Australia, entered into voluntary administration.

In Estimates last week, Senators Hanson from One Nation and Patrick from the Centre Alliance, expressed concerns that NOGA was the only Australian company in the region, aside Chinese-owned firms and Indonesian companies.

"We have got an Australian company that has now gone into voluntary administration, which is never a good thing. It is one of the few companies we have working on the southern plateau," Patrick said.

"If it were to shut down, all that would remain are the Chinese and the Indonesians because we don't have much in the way of presence there, having been there and having had a very good look around. There is a national interest perspective to this."

Hanson also accused NOPSEMA of "raiding" Lloyd's Register International's offices in Perth without due cause.

"In mid-May of this year, NOPSEMA raided the Perth offices of Lloyd's Register International. We understand NOPSEMA was only really interested in the records relating to Northern Endeavour," Hanson told the committee.

However NOPSEMA Safety and Integrity head of division Derrick O'Keeffe disputed this, saying Hanson's allegations were not correct and the regulator has not "raided anyone's office."

Source: Energy News Bulletin

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