Santos says Legendre methane leaks impossible to fix

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

Oil and gas company Santos has admitted that its retired Legendre oil and gas field off the Pilbara coast has been leaking gas for a decade, and says the leaks are impossible to fix.

According to a report in WA Today, there are 26 methane gas leaks in the field. Methane is more than 80 times worse for global warming than carbon dioxide.

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The report said Santos submitted a plan to offshore regulator NOPSEMA in early 2022 that rejected action to stem the leaks as “not technically feasible”. Santos instead proposed to monitor them for another five years.

NOPSEMA would not comment on Santos’ proposal but a spokesperson said, “NOPSEMA would never accept that gas wells leak indefinitely”.

Friends of the Earth offshore fossil gas campaigner Jeff Waters said immediate action needed to be taken to stop the leaks.

“The question today for the Climate Change Minister, Chris Bowen, is how many of his carbon-cutting initiatives are being cancelled out by these rogue methane emissions,” he said.

“We have no idea how many of the 90 or so other retired gas fields are also leaking, because nobody is monitoring them.

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“If Santos can’t clean up this mess then engineers from Europe, where world’s best practice in well decommissioning takes place, should be brought in to solve the problem, and Santos should pay for it.”

“The federal government should indefinitely extend, and increase, the temporary decommissioning levy that the industry is now paying so that all abandoned wells can be properly sealed.”

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