Australian government places PTTEP on notice

Rick Wilkinson
OGJ Correspondent

MELBOURNE, Feb. 7 -- The Australian government has put Thai company PTTEP Australasia on notice for 18 months, but allowed to keep its offshore oil and gas exploration and production licences in Australia following receipt of an independent review of the company’s action plan following the Montara oil spill incident in the Timor Sea in 2009.

Australian Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson said the independent review conducted by consultant Noetic Solutions said PTTEP’s action plan did respond to the issues raised in the recent Montara Commission of Inquiry report. However, he pointed out that the Noetic review also said that the action plan would only be effective if properly implemented. In short, the plan was highly dependent on the quality of its execution.

Ferguson said he therefore accepted the recommendation to subject PTTEP to a rigorous 18-month monitoring program to ensure all aspects of the plan are implemented to the letter.

Ferguson added that he would not issue a “show cause” notice that could lead to cancellation of PTTEP’s operations, but he would retain the right to do so if the implementation of the plan was not satisfactory.

He also said he would place an additional set of conditions on renewal applications or future granting of petroleum title applications from PTTEP.

For its part PTTEP Australasia has decided to appoint a new Australian chief executive officer and an advisory board chaired by company director Pichai Chunhavajira and to collaborate with all senior management to deliver better corporate governance in the future.

The Montara oil spill lasted 74 days before being plugged and also resulted in a fire that destroyed the jack up rig mounted over the wellhead platform at the time.

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