Victorian Gas Pipeline Rupture Under Investigation as Authorities Seek Cause

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Victorian Gas Pipeline Rupture Under Investigation as Authorities Seek Cause

 The flag of Australia (© Shutterstock/esfera)
The flag of Australia (© Shutterstock/esfera)

The Australian National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) is investigating a ruptured gas pipeline off the Victorian coast, which caused a visible sheen on the water's surface.

ExxonMobil subsidiary Esso notified NOPSEMA about the potential spill on Saturday morning. The pipeline, believed to be connected to the West Kingfish platform currently undergoing decommissioning, reportedly contained 95% water at the time of the incident.

According to a NOPSEMA spokesperson, the pipeline has been isolated and depressurized at both ends. An investigation is underway, and NOPSEMA expressed satisfaction with Esso's current management of the incident.

The regulator declined to comment on the remaining contents of the pipeline or any potential water contamination, citing the ongoing investigation. 

The incident has sparked concerns regarding the aging offshore oil and gas infrastructure in the area with environmental groups calling for stricter regulations and transparency from both NOPSEMA and operators, especially during decommissioning processes.

Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson expressed serious concerns, particularly given Esso's plans for a carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in the region.

"NOPSEMA is supposed to oversee environmental management," Whish-Wilson said. "Coastal communities are losing confidence in a regulator that seems to enable rather than investigate offshore projects."

Environmental advocates like Fern Cadman of the Wilderness Society echoed these concerns, highlighting the risks of reusing existing pipelines for CCS purposes. 

In September 2022, the Australian Workers Union also raised concerns about potential shortcuts taken by Esso during decommissioning.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society called for a full investigation. "This rupture is a reminder of the dangers posed by aging offshore infrastructure," said Louise Morris, offshore oil and gas campaign manager. 

"It underscores the need for stronger oversight and transparency from NOPSEMA."

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