Bloomberg News

Australian Minister to Act ‘Promptly’ After Oil Spill Report

June 18, 2010

Australian Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said he will “act promptly” after receiving today the results of an investigation into a 2009 oil spill off the country’s northwest coast.

Ferguson will release the report after reviewing the findings and ensuring making it public won’t prejudice any further investigations into possible criminal offences or civil action, he said in a statement.

Australia must “revisit” its regulation of oil and gas companies, making one agency responsible for safety, the environment and well operations, Ferguson said in an interview yesterday. The leak from PTT Exploration & Production Pcl (PTTEP)’s Montara well and the BP Plc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have damaged confidence in the industry, he said last month.

PTT, based in Bangkok, has estimated that as much as 400 barrels of oil a day leaked into the Timor Sea between Aug. 21 and Nov. 3. That would make it the third-biggest spill in the nation’s history, based on figures compiled by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

New oil discoveries are necessary as the nation’s reliance on imports increases, the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association said in a statement today. “However, the importance of security of supply is no excuse for sub-standard safety and environmental performance,” Chief Executive Officer Belinda Robinson said.

Australia set up the inquiry in November to probe the causes of the Montara spill, evaluate the nation’s regulations, study the environmental impact and make recommendations.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Paton in Sydney jpaton4@bloomberg.net; Gemma Daley in Canberra at gdaley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Amit Prakash at aprakash1@bloomberg.net.


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