Santos pause continues
Santos' giant Barossa gas project will remain on hold while the Federal Court considers an appeal.
Barossa is a $4.7 billion project in the Timor Sea 300 kilometres north of Darwin.
In September, a judge found the offshore gas regulator had failed to assess whether Santos consulted with all “relevant parties” in its planning phases, including the Munupi clan of the Tiwi Islands.
Environmental lawyers representing Munupi clan elder Dennis Tipakalippa successfully argued that the group was not properly consulted before approval for the project was granted by the regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum and Safety Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), in February.
Lawyers for Santos have now appealed that decision, arguing that the clan did not legally count as “relevant persons”, and that it could not be expected to consult with “each and every” individual clan member.
The company allegedly believes that such a requirement would be unworkable.
Justice Mortimer told the court last week; “The only category which is said to be unworkable are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have interests in this area”.
“It's not said to be unworkable to contact a department. It's not said to be unworkable to consult an organisation. It's not said to be unworkable to consult a fisheries body [which] has hundreds of members.
“It's only said to be unworkable to consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
Santos’ two-day appeal concluded in Melbourne without a judgement date. It is understood that the project will remain on hold until an official judgement is made.