Indigenous Australians are filing a lawsuit to stop Santos, Ltd., an Australian oil and gas exploration and production company, from developing the $3.6 billion Barossa gas project off the coast of northern Australia. The traditional landowners said they were not consulted about the drilling activities.
The Barossa project includes the construction of a 260-km pipeline to the west of the Tiwi Islands that will connect offshore gas facilities to an existing pipeline that runs to Darwin in the Northern Territory. At its closest point, the pipeline will be 6km from shore.
"It's our land that's closest to the drilling site. We are the ones who are going to be affected," Tiwi traditional owner Dennis Tipakalippa, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Santos is required by law to consult with people who might be impacted by the drilling plans and since the company failed to do that, their plans for development are invalid, the lawyers for the Traditional Owners said.
In the latest case, the traditional owners allege the drilling will threaten their culture, way of life and food sources, affecting the breeding patterns and nesting grounds of turtles, dugongs and whales.
“Under Australian law and in accordance with Aboriginal tradition, the Jikilaruwu clan is the owner of the sea country where that gas pipeline will go through. We are the decision makers for that sea country,” Daniel Munkara, Tiwi clan leader, said in a statement released by the Stop Barossa Gas Campaign group.
“We were told briefly about the pipeline in 2018 and we said ‘no’ to the project. They said it wasn’t happening. Now we find out Santos wants to lay the pipeline through our sea country without our consent.”