Wednesday, October 28, 2009




Joseph Roe, Senior Law Boss, Registered Applicant of Goolaraboo / Jabirr Jabirr Country, (which includes James Price Point) spoke with ABC Kimberley Regional Radio this morning about his objections and intention to take legal action should Woodside Energy Ltd application to develop a temporary Meteorological Tower at James Price Point is granted. From this proposed facility field data will be collected on the atmospheric conditions in the area to help with the detailed planning of the LNG Precinct.

The item will be brought to the Ordinary Meeting of Broome Shire Council 29 October 2009 for consideration as the land falls within the Shire of Broome’s Interim Development Order No. 4 (IDO4). It has been recommended that Council support the development.

This reminds me of a story Red Hand blogged around the same time last year. A tower had been build in country near North Head which was originally Barnett’s preferred site for the proposed biggest LNG Precinct in the world that will accommodate up to a suggested 14 LNG trains. However. permission was never obtained for it.

The proposal is to construct 30m high Temporary Meteorological Tower (the Tower), with associated weather station monitoring equipment for a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 36 months. The Tower will be located within either one of two sites each approximately 2,000m2 (0.2 hectares) to 2,500m2 (0.25 hectares) in area.

The features of the tower include:

One, 30metre high galvanized steel (grey colour) tower with three mast guy

wires extending out to approximately 18m from the tower base at a 120

degree angle.

The tower is required to monitor weather and environmental conditions and collect field data on atmospheric conditions, such as wind speed, air quality and temperature. The information recorded by monitoring equipment (sensors and loggers) will be used to assist in the future planning and development of the site, for the anticipated future gas storage and gas processes that are to occur in this location. The monitoring will be used to guide LNG train design, assess safety aspects of LNG plant site layout, and complete air quality assessment to guide engineering design to maximize dispersion of potential air pollutants.

To minimize the requirement for on site field visits, field data will be transmitted from site via a satellite to an offsite location for processing. Service visits will be required at two (2) to three (3) monthly intervals or earlier if data problems are incurred. Access to the site during the operation phase will be by light passenger vehicle e.g. 4WD and any parking will be onsite.

Two sites, of between 2,000sm to 2,500sm have been identified. Each is a triangular shape of approximately 45m x 45m x 45m. Only one site is required for the construction of the tower. The final site selection will be made after a heritage clearance has been undertaken by the Kimberley Land Council, Traditional Owners, Environmental Specialist and Contactors.

Option A — The preferred site is located approximately:

- 4.5km south of James Price Point

- 1km east of the coast cliff line

- 100m east of the unsealed Manari Road.

This site would require a new track of approximately 3m wide and 100m in length to be established from Manari Road to the tower site. Vegetation would be selectively cleared by ‘scrub roll’ or ‘blade up’ clearing to minimize the extent of clearing of the track. The track in would have a ‘bend’ so the proposed tower could not be viewed directly from Manari Road.

Option B - is located approximately:

- 4km south - east of James Price Point

- 3km east of the coast cliff line

- 2.5km east of the Manari Road.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Timor Sea waters have been contaminated

Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) (ANTARA News) - East Nusa Tenggara`s Environmental Affairs Agency (BLHD) has confirmed that Timor Sea waters have been contaminated with oil leaked from an explosion at the Montara oil field.

"Based on samples obtained in a survey conducted by BLHD in four different locations (in Timor Sea) last October 23, the sea waters is above the national water quality standard in line with the Environmental Affairs Minister`s Decree no. 51/2004," NTT BLHD Head Alexander Oematan said here on Tuesday.

The results of physical analysis conducted at the NTT BLHD laboratory showed that a water sample taken at the coordinate of 11.31.213 degrees southern latitude and 122.59.530 degrees eastern longitude, around five miles of Landu Isle, smelled oily, with turbidity at 165.5 NTU (Nephelometric Turbidity Units), and had an oil layer.

At the second point at the coordinate of 11.09.372 degrees southern latitude, and 122.56.960 degrees eastern longitude, around 10 miles of Ndana Isle as well as in Rote Ndao District, the water sample also smelled oily, with 569 NTU.

The chemical analysis also showed that the fat oil content was above the national water quality standard, Oematan said.The findings confirmed that the Timor Sea was polluted and efforts should be taken to prevent the destruction of marine species in the area, he said.

Oil, gas and condensate have been polluting the Timor Sea since the blow out happened at a rig of PTT Exploration & Production Pcl, the operator of the Montara offshore oil field on August 21, 2009. The rig is located around 690 km west of Darwin, North Australia, and 250 km northwest of Truscott in West Australia.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Garrett brushes off oil spill criticism

The Federal Government has rejected Opposition criticism of its response to a large oil spill off Western Australia's north-west coast.

Oil has been leaking from an oil rig in the Timor Sea for more than two months and attempts to plug it have so far failed.

The Opposition says it is concerned about the environmental damage and says the Government is not doing enough to prevent an environmental disaster.

A spokesman for the Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, says the Government has had monitoring teams on site from the beginning and has put in place long-term monitoring plans.

The company responsible for the oil rig says it will make another attempt at plugging the leak tomorrow.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Five new exploration licences and access to several oilfields in Australian waters is rewarded to PTTEP

The ongoing Montara / West Atlas oil spill in the Timor Sea off Western Australia is now in its 62nd day. So far, three attempts to intercept and plug the leaking well have failed. Another attempt should happen within a day. A MODIS / Terra satellite image taken on October 21 - exactly two months after the blowout and spill began - shows slicks and sheen covering 2,600 square miles and approaching within 35 miles of the Kimberley coast.

Dark patches at center are discontinuous slicks and sheen, coming within 35 miles (30 nautical miles) of the Australian coast. Other dark patches to the south and southwest may be a combination of slicks and sheen obscured by calm, low-wind conditions. Bright patch to right of slicks is intense area of sunglint reflection. Clouds are scattered throughout this image, especially over Western Australia's rugged Kimberley Coast. Ashmore and Cartier Islands are aqua blue spots in the upper left.

THE company responsible for one of the biggest oil spills in Australian history was yesterday given access to more Australian oilfields, after winning support from the Rudd Government.

As its workers began their fourth attempt at fixing the Montara oil leak off the Kimberley coast, Thai company PTTEP yesterday took control of five new exploration licences and several oilfields in Australian waters.

Despite growing concerns about the impact of the two-month oil leak, the $11 million purchase of new oil assets was supported by Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson and Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board.

Purchased from fellow oil exploration company OMV, the licences give PTTEP control of an extra 1480 square kilometres of Australian waters near the leaking Montara rig, about 650 kilometres west of Darwin.

With the Montara leak yet to be resolved, the deal prompted concern from scientists and environmentalists such as University of West Australia associate professor of marine ecology Euan Harvey.

''They need to demonstrate they cannot impact on others' livelihoods or on the ecosystem, and at the moment they've demonstrated very clearly that they can't do that,'' he said.

Professor Harvey, who has spent recent years researching marine biology in the waters close to the spill, said the oil slick posed a big risk to the larvae of large finfish, which spawn in October.

Australian Marine Conservation Society spokesman Darren Kindleysides said PTTEP's track record should be taken into account before access was granted to new oilfields.

''Clearly PTTEP's track record has been pretty shabby in recent months,'' he said. ''Major questions still hang unanswered over why this spill happened and why it hasn't been plugged yet.''

Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Chris Smyth called the timing extraordinary.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Third attempt fails to plug oil and gas leak

A Thai-based oil company on Saturday failed in its third attempt to plug a leaking rig that has spilled thousands of barrels of crude into seas off Australia, alarming environmentalists.

PTTEP Australasia said it had missed its target for a relief well some 2.6 kilometres (1.6 miles) below the seabed for the third time this month, and would try again in the coming days.

The leaking wellhead, some 25 centimetres (10 inches) wide, has been gushing off Australia's northwest since August 21 with estimates putting the discharge at 400 barrels a day.

"Setting up for each pass sequence takes between three and four days," PTTEP said in a statement.

"Implementing the pass sequence must then be undertaken during daylight hours for safety reasons.

"Once the leaking well is successfully intercepted, heavy mud will be pumped from the West Triton down into the relief well, displacing the oil, gas and water and stopping the flow."

The spill is reportedly Australia's worst since offshore drilling began more than 40 years ago, and ecologists fear the toxic cocktail of oil and dispersant chemicals could threaten marine and coastal species.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett, ex-frontman of rock band Midnight Oil, this week said PTTEP had agreed to pay for environmental monitoring of the area for at least two years.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The worst oil spill in Australia's history

It is eight weeks to the day since oil started leaking uncontrollably from the West Atlas drill rig in the Timor Sea, almost 3000 tonnes of oil are estimated to have polluted the ocean. This is one of the worst oil spills in Australia's history. The company responsible, PTTEP, has failed to cap the leak and failed to meet their promises of stopping the spill within 6-8 weeks, says the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

"Eight weeks, almost 3000 tonnes of oil and one failed promise later and still this toxic spill continues. While industry is hurrying to play down the impact of this disaster on the environment, public patience with the polluters is wearing very thin," said Darren Kindleysides, AMCS Director.

"The West Atlas spill has become a dirty stain on Australia's environmental reputation," he continued. "Over the last eight weeks we have learned three things: there is no such thing as risk free oil and gas production at sea; when things go wrong they go badly wrong; and our oceans are woefully under-protected from the oil and gas industry."

"We welcome the agreement between the company and Government to monitor the impacts of this spill for two years, but it cannot be described as a long-term program. The effects of major oil spills elsewhere in the world have been felt by wildlife, fisheries and the marine environment over a decade after the incidents. To begin to get a handle on the legacy of damage left by the West Atlas disaster, we will need monitoring to be funded for at least five years," concluded Kindleysides.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society is calling on the Australian Government to:

1. Protect the most important areas for marine wildlife by establishing large marine sanctuaries, setting these areas aside from oil and gas exploration.

2. Place a moratorium on opening up any more areas for oil and gas exploration until the current marine bioregional planning process is complete.

3. Ensure, under the polluter pays principle, that PTTEP foot the bill for at least five years, and preferably ten, monitoring the impacts of this spill on our ocean wildlife.

Oil continues to poison the Timor Sea

Today marks eight weeks since the West Atlas rig in the Timor Sea - between Australia and East Timor - started leaking oil at the rate of some 400 barrels a day. PTTEP Australasia hopes to intercept the leaking well tomorrow - the company's third attempt.

The Federal Government has announced an environmental monitoring program which the company will pay for. But the Greens say the government should ensure the program runs for longer than two years. The Greens believe the environmental impact of the spill has been much bigger than the government, and the company involved, are letting on.

And in news just to hand, Indonesian fisherman say the Timor oil spill has killed thousands of fish.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Strike Two FAILED

A second attempt to stop the flow of oil leaking from a rig off Australia's north coast has failed.

The West Atlas oil rig in the Timor Sea has been leaking oil into the ocean for more than seven weeks.

PTTEP Australasia failed in its first attempt to stop the leak last week.

The company says it expects to be able to make another attempt to plug the hole this weekend.

"We will now re-run the vector magnetics tools tonight to see how close we are to the target," PTTEP Australasia director Jose Martins said.

"Our drilling experts are hopeful that we will not need such a long side track to hit it on the next pass."

He says today's unsuccessful attempt is disappointing, but the chances of hitting the target are now higher.

"The closer we get to the target with each pass, the more certain we become of its location."

A Greens Senator is calling for Australia's response plan to oil and gas spills to be drastically improved.

Senator Scott Ludlam says the response to the spill should have been quicker.

Second pass to intercept the leaking well

PTTEP will make a second pass to intercept the leaking well in the Montara field today, after initial attempts were blocked by hard rocks under the seabed.

The damaged well, which blew out on 21 August, has been leaking hydrocarbons into the Timor Sea for seven weeks.

Work continued today on the salvage operations after a fresh delay last Friday.

The sidetrack well being drilled by Seadrill’s jack-up West Triton to intercept the leak encountered a “very hard, deep rock formation” last week, slowing the work progress, PTTEP said.

The drilling team onboard West Triton will use a rotary steerable assembly to drill up to 2738 metres within several metres of the calculated target, before attempting the second pass.

The aim is to intersect a piece of steel casing 25 centimetres in diameter, 2.6 kilometres below the seabed.

Environmental groups claim the isolated area affected by the Montara leak is home to a number of endangered species.

Indonesia has dispatched a team of officials last week to monitor Australia's response to the oil spill, saying it feared the contamination could harm the country’s marine life.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Shell to build floating LNG plant

Shell is to build the world's first floating LNG processing plant off the West Australian coast.

The company plans to process gas from its Prelude and Concerto fields in the Browse Basin off the Kimberley coast using floating LNG technology.

Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson says the technology will allow remote gas fields, which may otherwise have been not viable, to be unlocked.

"Obviously historically we have had LNG hubs on the mainland. On this occasion it's a choice between having gas reserves stranded or looking at a new technology," he said.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Goolarabooloo and Jabirr Jabirr SAY NO TO GAS

Statement by Joseph Roe, Senior Law Boss, Registered Applicant of Goolaraboo / Jabirr Jabirr Country, (which includes James Price Point).

Senator Louise Pratt has invited other Senators, Members of the House of Representatives and their staff to attend a “Kimberley briefing” next Wednesday. She is hosting the briefing on behalf of the Kimberley Land Council (KLC). The KLC’s notice promises a presentation by KLC’s Executive Officer, Mr Wayne
Bergmann, and “senior men and women Kimberley Traditional Owners”.

Senator Pratt is acting in good faith. However, the KLC has no authority to negotiate with anybody about the development of James Price Point. Nor has anybody else at this stage.

James Price Point is situated north of Broome, in the Dampier Peninsula. It is included in the Native Title Claim lodged in 1994 by myself and Cyril Shaw “on behalf of the Goolarabooloo and Jabirr Jabirr Peoples” (G-JJ). Other Dampier Peninsula claims have since been made but no other group has disputed G-JJ’s
entitlement to James Price Point. It is universally recognised as Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr land.

My grandfather, Paddy Roe, was Senior Cultural Law Boss of Goolarabooloo / Jabirr Jabirr country and the Broome area for approximately five decades. Shortly before his death in 1992, he and the other G/JJ Elders formally appointed me as his successor.

In 1987, Paddy Roe initiated the Lurujarri Heritage Trail. Its route, a nine-day walk along the Dampier Peninsula coast, follows that of the Northern Tradition Song Cycle that has been handed down to us through many generations. Paddy Roe wished young G-JJ people to learn about their Country and Culture. He also wished to build cultural bridges with other people. He wanted the trail to be frequently walked in the company of Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr Elders. I have carried on that tradition. Participation is greater than ever. Thousands of people, including Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr, other indigenous peoples, non-indigenous Australians and many foreign visitors have walked the trail, learning along the way.

James Price Point (Walmadan) is midway in the Lurujarri Heritage Trail. Its development as a Gas Precinct would destroy the trail. It would also adversely affect the other traditional activities carried out in that area. It would be a betrayal of my heritage, and responsibility as Senior Law Boss, for me ever to agree to its industrialisation. Most of my people agree with me. They share my view that no amount of money could compensate for loss of their heritage. They ask why they should be expected to sacrifice so much for benefits,like health and education services, that other Australians receive as birth right.

Mr Bergmann claims the “Traditional Owners’ consented to the development of James Price Point at a meeting held on 14-15 April. That is not true. That was not just a meeting of the Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr people; it was also open to Djabera Djabera people, whose claim does not overlap ours, and any other person
who claimed to be of G/JJ descent. I have repeatedly asked Mr Bergmann for a list of those who attended and, of those, who was eligible to vote. He has never provided either to me. I doubt that that any list was made.

Few Goolarabooloo people attended the meeting. None of the Goolarabooloo people knew that the KLC planned to take a vote about entering an agreement with Woodside Energy and the WA government. The notice calling the meeting stated only one item of business: “Update on Negotiations about the Premier’s nomination for a Gas Precinct around James Price Point.” Most of Goolarabooloo, who all oppose the whole
idea of the Gas Precinct, elected not to attend. They were not interested in these inappropriate negotiations.

Some months before this meeting, the Law Bosses of the Dampier Peninsula, along with Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr leaders, agreed that any decision about James Price Point should be made by consensus. Mr Bergmann knew this. Nonetheless, at the very end of the 14-15 April meeting, which had been dominated by discussion about the possible financial benefits of the Gas Precinct, Mr Bergmann called for a decision by majority vote. He ignored a request for a secret ballot. The matter was decided by a show of hands. I do not know the size of the majority. Along with several others, I had walked out in disgust. I have since asked Mr Bergman for a copy of the minutes of the meeting. My request has been ignored. I suspect no minutes were taken.

I have also asked Mr Bergmann for a copy of the agreement he signed with Woodside and the WA government, According to a note on the cover of the agreement, he signed: “On behalf of Kimberley Land Council representing the Traditional Owners (Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr Native Title claimants).” Despite the fact that I am a registered applicant and the lead claimant, he has refused to do more than allow
me to glance through the document at his office. He will not allow me to take away a copy, so that I may seek advice and discuss it with others, claiming it is “commercial-in-confidence.”

When I heard about the briefing arranged by Senator Pratt, I wrote to Mr Bergmann asking him to include me in the team to attend. Despite a reminder letter, he has not responded. I have not been told who are the people billed as “senior men and women Traditional Owners”.

The Goolarabooloo people are not opposed to exploitation of the Browse Basin gas reserves. We recognise its potential economic benefit to Australia. But there are alternatives to processing the gas at James Price Point. They may even be cheaper. The other Browse Basin leaseholders (Chevron, Shell, BP and BHP Billiton) seem to think so; they are currently investigating these alternatives.

In February last year, the Parliament made an Apology for past wrongs to the Aboriginal people. It was a moving and memorable day. However, some cynics wondered whether it would mean anything in practice. The manner in which the Government handles the issue of James Price Point will go a long way to provide
the answer.

Joseph Roe 14 September 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Prime Minister had a whale of a time in Broome

As the gas emissions continue to spew into the air, the oil continues to pour into the Timor Sea from the West Atlas and dead fish are now being washed up along the beaches in Timor. These fish were collected by the local people and eaten which has resulted in food poisoning and itching skin.

Meanwhile, back in Broome, our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd called in to touch base with Kerry Stokes (A Media Man) who has a residence overlooking Cable Beach in Broome. A civic reception hosted by Broome Shire Council was held at the Shire offices, on Friday the 2nd October, in the cool of the afternoon.

Positioned on the front lawn of the Shire Offices was a large art installation of a whale placed in a symbolic sea of oil was there to greet the Prime Minister. A number of protesters were also there to draw attention to: the current ecological catastrophe from the weeks of oil spilling from the West Atlas into the Timor Sea, the proposed 14 trains LNG precinct at James Price Point and the lack of faith in the Kimberley Land Council.

Several Indigenous and Conservation groups’ representatives were represented within this reception, providing an opportunity to raise several concerns with the Prime Minister directly. Neil McKenzie, a Jabirr Jabirr man representing Save the Kimberley presented the PM with a beautiful framed photo of James Price Point. Mr Joe Roe from Goolarabooloo, the head applicant to the Native Title Claim over James Price Point presented Mr Rudd with an open letter. This letter will be bogged within the next 24 hours on Handsoffcountry.