Santos notes the Federal Court of Australia has today granted an interim injunction to prevent Santos from commencing to lay the Barossa Gas Export Pipeline (GEP) until 13 November 2023.
This decision is in connection with an application by Mr Simon Munkara seeking an order that Santos revise and resubmit the Environment Plan (EP) that was accepted by the regulator, NOPSEMA, in March 2020.
Mr Munkara alleges 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 in relation to impacts on underwater cultural heritage places to which Indigenous people have spiritual and cultural connections.
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 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 13 November 2023 to determine whether to extend the injunction until that final hearing, which will be held on an expedited basis.
As announced to the ASX earlier this week, Santos respects the cultural heritage of the Tiwi people and while we appreciate there are a range of views, Santos has complied in full with the requirements of the General Direction as stipulated by the regulator, NOPSEMA. The regulator has monitored this compliance throughout.
The pipelay vessel will hold in Darwin and no pipelay activity linked to the GEP will be undertaken during the interim injunction.
Guidance on Barossa cost and schedule remains unchanged. Santos will assess any impact on the schedule and cost of the Barossa Gas Project if the injunction is extended beyond 13 November 2023 and will update the market accordingly.
Santos will continue to defend the proceedings at the next court date.