Prominent partnership targets oil spill response

promINDUSTRY heavyweights have joined forces to better protect waters off the coast of northern WA from oil spills.
The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Shell Development (Australia) and INPEX Operations Australia (a subsidiary of INPEX Corporation) have united to establish a comprehensive environmental baseline for the region, which will host Shell’s Prelude operations and INPEX’s Ichthys LNG project.
The partnership will also establish comprehensive plans for monitoring the marine environment in case of what it termed an “unlikely event of loss of containment”. “This partnership is another element of INPEX’s oil spill response preparedness whereby we will be able to draw on the expertise of Australia’s leading research scientists and institutes to monitor and report on any potential impacts arising from such an event,” INPEX president director Australia Seiya Ito said.

Both the Prelude and Ichthys projects are constrained by a condition of approval by the Federal Department of Environment, requiring the operators to develop an Operational and Scientific Monitoring Program (OSMP) prior to beginning production drilling in the Browse Basin.
AIMS is the lead OSMP contractor in the partnership, bringing together AIMS, the University of Western Australia, Curtin University, ChemCentre and Monash University.
“We absolutely have the capability and experience, together with our partners, to deliver independent analysis and monitoring which is now required by law by the Government of Australia,” AIMS research director Jamie Oliver said.

“This partnership with AIMS and their [research and development] partners will help not only assist the oil and gas industries in their own work but also help better understand the Browse Basin environment.
“We are looking forward to this opportunity to work with industry more closely to better protect our oceans and coast.”
The Prelude gas field is just 15km from INPEX’s Ichthys gas-condensate field, and both projects have overlapping zones of potential influence as well as similar ecologies. For this reason, the operating companies decided to jointly fund the development of an OSMP that could be deployed at either project.

“We are delighted to have established this collaborative partnership between industry and the scientific community,” Shell Australia general manager for health, safety, environment and social performance Mike Seymour said.
“The OSMP will help us further understand the marine environment in the Browse Basin and enables a pre-planned spill response and monitoring capability that we can call upon in the unlikely event of a significant spill.”