Santos gets drilling approval for Barossa gas project

Offshore gas drilling rig in the ocean with beautiful pink and blue sunset behind it (merger)
Offshore gas platform (Image: Shutterstock)

Oil and gas giant Santos has been given approval for a revised drilling plan at its controversial Barossa gas project, despite the project’s fate in limbo thanks to a legal dispute with Tiwi Islanders.

Related article: Tiwi Islander’s victory: Santos to vacate Barossa gas

Santos was instructed to cease drilling work at the Barossa gas project last year after the Federal Court ruled in favour of Indigenous people on the nearby Tiwi Islands who said they were not properly consulted by the oil and gas company.

“The Barossa Development Drilling and Completions Environment Plan (EP) was accepted by the regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) on Friday 15 December 2023,” Santos said in a statement.

“Following the setting aside of NOPSEMA’s March 2022 approval of the EP in September 2022, Santos has conducted further extensive consultation with Tiwi Island people and other relevant persons consistent with the applicable regulations, NOPSEMA’s guidelines, and guidance provided by the decision of the Full Federal Court in the Tipakalippa proceedings.

“Santos is proceeding with applications for all remaining approvals for the Barossa Gas Project.”

There is a 30-day window to appeal the decision.

Despite the legal challenge, Santos said last month it expected to start producing gas from the Barossa project in the first half of 2025.

Related article: Woodside and Santos confirm talks of merger

Meanwhile, the company was recently confirmed to be in talks with rival Woodside Energy over a possible merger.

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