08/05/2009 - 15:28

State amends Varanus investigation

08/05/2009 - 15:28

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The state government has reconstituted its Varanus Island gas explosion investigation following legal action by Apache Energy.

State amends Varanus investigation

The state government has reconstituted its Varanus Island gas explosion investigation following legal action by Apache Energy.

Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore today said panel members from the existing joint state and federal inquiry, Kym Bills and David Agostini, have now been appointed by the state as inspectors under the Petroleum Pipelines Act and would co-ordinate the final stage of the investigation.

The investigation is being conducted by the Department of Mines and Petroleum, with results scheduled to be released in June this year.

The changes follow Apache's legal action that is seeking to block the department from giving information it had obtained from the gas explosion to the federal-state inquiry.

Mr Moore's latest move is expected to enable the investigation to bypass Apache's legal manoeuvre.

"As inspectors, they will have access to relevant information obtained by the department, which will enable a more thorough final report and help identify the most likely causes, potential breaches and other relevant facts related to the incident," Mr Moore said.

A trial between Apache and the state and federal governments is scheduled for next week.

Both governments said they will defend the legal actions.

Apache Energy declined to comment on Mr Moore's actions.

The inquiry is currently being finalised.

The Minister's statement is pasted below:

 

State appoints inspectors to finalise investigation into Varanus Island explosion
Portfolio: Mines and Petroleum

Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore today announced that the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) would carry out the final stage of investigations into the Varanus Island gas explosion.

Mr Moore said Kym Bills and David Agostini - jointly-appointed in January to perform the State-Federal inquiry into the incident - were now officially inspectors under the Petroleum Pipelines Act and would co-ordinate the final stage of the investigation.

An investigation into the cause of the June 3, 2008 incident was previously undertaken by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority (NOPSA) and the then Department of Industry and Resources (now the DMP).

That investigation resulted in a report by NOPSA, publicly released by the Minister in October last year.

"However, that investigation was limited by its reporting time frame and the absence of critical evidence, such as the results from destructive and non-destructive testing of the pipeline. This is now available," he said.

Mr Moore said finalising the current investigation was vital to fully understand what occurred and to ensure the ongoing safety of the petroleum industry in Western Australia.

"Engaging these two experts (Mr Bills and Mr Agostini) as inspectors to perform the final stage of investigations will provide a much more complete picture," he said.

"As inspectors, they will have access to relevant information obtained by the department, which will enable a more thorough final report and help identify the most likely causes, potential breaches and other relevant facts related to the incident."

The scope of the investigation will include:

- the pertinent sequence of events on Varanus Island during the incident

- the likely cause(s) of the incident

- any actions and omissions by the operator of the Varanus Island facility, or its contractors, leading up to and during the incident that may have contributed to those events.

The Minister said the Varanus Island Final Investigation Report was expected to be delivered to the DMP by early June.

Finalisation of the Offshore Petroleum Regulatory Inquiry was also continuing, though Apache Energy has brought an action in the Federal Court to restrain this inquiry from using some of the information obtained by the DMP related to the incident.

The State and the Commonwealth Governments will defend these legal actions.

 

 

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