12/08/2008 - 14:12

Leave Varanus inquiry alone: Ripper

12/08/2008 - 14:12

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An investigation into the Varanus Island gas pipeline rupture has found the operation complied with general safety standards as the government calls on the state opposition to not jeopardise the inquiry.

Leave Varanus inquiry alone: Ripper

An investigation into the Varanus Island gas pipeline rupture has found the operation complied with general safety standards as the government calls on the state opposition to not jeopardise the inquiry.

Deputy Premier Eric Ripper today released key findings into the rupture which caused the state's gas supply to be cut by a third in June.

The investigation, carried out by the Lloyd's Register Group based in London, found there was no impediment to continued safe operations or compliance, and provisions were found to be in place for the safe operation of the facility for the next 21 years.

However the cause of the rupture and subsequent explosion is still being investigated.

Mr Ripper's calls to the state opposition come nearly one month after the Liberal Party, under the leadership of Troy Buswell, leaked correspondence between the Department of Industry and Resources and the Department of Consumer and Employment Protection.

In the document dated July 2007, a DoCEP director complained to DoIR that operator Apache Energy Ltd's five-year integrity review report had not adhered to conditions of its pipeline licence.

Today Mr Ripper said those documents had been provided to the opposition leader and could be open to deliberate misrepresentation.

"The emails are effectively a discussion between two Government departments about the way forward in dealing with safety management issues," Mr Ripper said.

"DoIR has provided the Government with independent advice that Apache's Varanus Island plant, including the island's pipelines, was given a robust health and safety clearance in May last year.

"This clearance was necessary for Apache to renew its island pipeline licence (PL 12) and was undertaken by the Lloyd's Register Group based in London, widely regarded as one of the world's most reputable risk assessment organisations."

Mr Ripper added the objective of the report was to validate the operating philosophy and practices on the island, in terms of monitoring, inspection, maintenance and repair.

He said the Premier would release the report once the investigation is finished.

The Premier has not ruled out launching a larger inquiry into the pipeline rupture should there be a need to.

 

Below is the announcement:

 

Deputy Premier Eric Ripper has called on the State Opposition not to jeopardise the investigation into the explosion on Varanus Island in June.

Mr Ripper said documents had been provided to the Leader of the Opposition which could be deliberately misrepresented.

The documents relate to correspondence between the Department of Industry and Resources (DoIR) and the Department Consumer and Employment Protection relating to the safety and integrity management of Apache Energy's mainland pipeline.

They include a letter that was provided to and released by the Leader of the Opposition last month.

"The emails are effectively a discussion between two Government departments about the way forward in dealing with safety management issues," the Deputy Premier said.

"DoIR has provided the Government with independent advice that Apache's Varanus Island plant, including the island's pipelines, was given a robust health and safety clearance in May last year.

"This clearance was necessary for Apache to renew its island pipeline licence (PL 12) and was undertaken by the Lloyd's Register Group based in London, widely regarded as one of the world's most reputable risk assessment organisations."

Mr Ripper said the two key findings of the Lloyd's investigation were:

- 'no impediment to continued safe operations or compliance with PL 12 requirements was identified'; and

- 'provisions were found to be in place with continuous improvement processes to ensure safety of the operational phase and technical integrity for ongoing operations of the Varanus Island whole plant and facilities covered by PL 12 as fit for purpose for the next 21 years'.

The Deputy Premier said the objective of the Lloyd's Group report was to validate the operating philosophy and practices on the island, in terms of monitoring, inspection, maintenance and repair.

Among other things, the report considered the extent of compliance with safety-related legislation, policy, procedures and good practice. Other findings in the report included:

- general condition of plant and equipment was found to be acceptable and within normal operational industry standard condition for Western Australia, with no indications of major accident events or leaks;

- acceptable leak detection methods were identified including process monitoring and control instrumentation with alarms, and fire and gas detectors; and

- inspection and test reports and history was available for all equipment reviewed.

"Clearly, something did go wrong on Varanus Island - and the current investigation will identify the cause of the explosion," Mr Ripper said.

"The Premier has already indicated that the investigation report will be made public and it is important the investigation is allowed to proceed without hindrance and without being a political football.

"He has also indicated that if a bigger investigation is required, he will have no hesitation in implementing one.

"The Lloyd's investigation has given Government some comfort that the facilities on the island have been subject to thorough testing and review in very recent times, and that professional oversight of safety on the island has been in place."

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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