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Santos’ LNG-Linked Barossa Pipeline Project Suffers New Setback

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Australian independent Santos' plans to send gas from the Barossa field to its Darwin LNG plant have been dealt another blow after a regulator directed it to identify underwater cultural heritage sites that may be affected by the Barossa pipeline and are not covered in the existing environment plan.

The request, by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (Nopsema), does not prohibit the start of work on the pipeline installation. But the agency has required Santos to notify it of any future activities covered by the Barossa Gas Export Pipeline Installation Environment Plan at least 10 days in advance.

“It’s our expectation that Santos won’t undertake any work that may result in impacts and risks that haven’t been adequately identified, evaluated and managed, in accordance with the regulations,” the authority told Energy Intelligence.

The authority issued the General Direction after a December inspection did not leave Nopsema inspectors confident that Santos would be able to identify all new places along the Barossa pipeline route to which people, in accordance with Indigenous tradition, may have spiritual and cultural connections.

Nopsema has also asked Santos to provide it with a weekly report detailing the company’s progress. Once Santos has completed its assessment, it will need to update the environment plan that Nopsema approved in March 2020.

Santos last summer sanctioned its Darwin Pipeline Duplication Project, allowing gas from the Barossa gas field to be transported to the Darwin LNG plant.

But last September, Australia's federal court backed a challenge led by traditional landowners from the Tiwi Islands against a drilling permit for Barossa. The indigenous group claimed that Santos did not properly consult traditional owners about the drilling work for the project. Santos lost its appeal last month.

Major Gas Development

Santos in March 2021 sanctioned the $3.6 billion Barossa-to-Darwin LNG project to extend the life of the 3.7 million ton per year export plant beyond 2040. First gas from the Barossa field is expected in the first half of 2025.

The Barossa project consists of a floating production, storage and offloading vessel, subsea production wells, supporting subsea infrastructure, and a gas export pipeline tied into the existing Bayu-Undan-to-Darwin LNG pipeline.

Santos owns a 50% stake in the Barossa project, alongside Japan's Jera (12.5%) and South Korea's SK E&S (37.5%). SK E&S and Jera are also shareholders in Darwin LNG with respective stakes of 25% and 6.1%.

Topics:
Gas Supply, LNG Projects, Offshore Oil and Gas
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