Santos respects the cultural heritage of the Tiwi people and while we understand and respect there are a range of views about the Barossa gas project, we will vigorously defend Federal Court proceedings commenced by the Environmental Defenders Office on behalf of Mr Simon Munkara.
The Environment Plan (EP) for the gas export pipeline installation was accepted by the regulator NOPSEMA in March 2020. Santos has, at all times, complied with the applicable regulations and requirements stipulated by NOPSEMA, and the regulator has monitored that compliance.
Santos rejects the allegations in the application that there are significant environmental impacts or risks in relation to submerged Tiwi cultural heritage.
Provided the GEP pipelay is completed in 2023, and drilling activities commence before the end of the year, guidance to the market on Barossa cost and schedule remains unchanged.
In the event any injunction is granted, Santos will need to assess any impact on the schedule and cost of the Barossa Gas Project and will update the market accordingly.
The Barossa GEP will run from the Barossa gas field 262 km offshore along a narrow underwater corridor. The pipe has a maximum diameter of 86 cm and will lay directly on top of the seafloor in water depths ranging from 33 to 254 metres. There will be no excavation of the seabed. At its closest point to land, the pipeline will be more than seven kilometres offshore from Bathurst Island in Commonwealth waters where the water depth will be around 70 metres.
In fully meeting its obligations, and as required by the General Direction issued by NOPSEMA on 13 January 2023, Santos engaged an independent expert to undertake and complete an assessment to identify any underwater cultural heritage places along the Barossa pipeline route to which people, in accordance with Indigenous tradition, may have spiritual and cultural connections that may be affected by the activities covered by the Barossa GEP EP. The independent expert was accepted as a suitably qualified independent expert by the regulator NOPSEMA, and was informed by Tiwi people and international experts in underwater cultural heritage, Wessex Archaeology, and in the geology and sedimentology of the Arafura Sea, Dr Posamentier.
The independent expert obtained information from about 170 Tiwi Island people with cultural connections to the sea country where the GEP is located and considered extensive, relevant archaeological and anthropological literature and studies.
The independent expert concluded there are no specific underwater cultural heritage places along the Barossa GEP route to which people in accordance with Indigenous tradition, may have spiritual and cultural connections that may be affected by the future activities covered by the EP.
There is no significant new environmental impact or risk that is not already provided for in the approved environment plan for pipeline installation. Santos has complied with the General Direction and the GEP EP is valid.
Santos will continue to engage with communities, land councils and First Nations people as we conduct our activities in accordance with the Environment Plans accepted by the regulator NOPSEMA.