APACHE Northwest Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of US oil and gas giant Apache Corporation, has been fined $8,000 after pleading guilty in the Perth Court of Petty Sessions to charges of failing to prevent a major oil spill off WA’s north-west coast.On the same day, Normandy Yandal Operations Ltd pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to provide a duty of care to employees and was fined $60,000.The charges against Apache were launched by the Department of Mineral and Petroleum Resources after approximately 23,000 litres of light crude oil was released off Varanus Island, 110 kilometres west of Dampier, in July 1999, forming a slick 500 metres long and 10 metres wide.The spill occurred after a chain attached to a transfer hose caught and sheared off a valve on a subsea loading line when a tanker attempted to hook up to transfer crude oil.Department of Petroleum division director Bill Tinapple said while the oil spill had a limited environmental impact, Apache failed to ensure adequate management systems were in place to prevent an incident like this occurring.“Companies should assess the risks of their operations and make sure they have appropriate controls in place,” Mr Tinapple said.Department of Minerals and Energy safety and environment general manager Richard Carddock said WA had an average of just 10 spills a year off the coast, most of which were only a few litres. Last year the total volume of spills was 660 litres.Mr Carddock said Apache originally intended to defend the case in the courts but decided to plead guilty. Apache achieved revenue of more than $220 million through its Australian operations last year.Business News attempted to discuss the matter with Apache, but no representatives were available for comment.
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