PTTEP fined A$510,000 for Montara incident

PTT Exploration and Production Plc (PTTEP) is fined 510,000 Australian dollar or approximately Bt16.55 million for the 2009 fire incident at its Montara field, off the coast of Australia.

In a statement to the Stock Exchange of Thailand, PTTEP President and CEO Tevin Vongvanich said that the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary PTTEP Australia (Ashmore Cartier) Pty Ltd plead guilty to four charges brought by NOPSEMA (National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management) in relation to incompliance with regulations from the Montara incident.

Its subsidiary, PTTEP (Australasia) or PTTEP AA which owns PTTEP Australia (Ashmore Cartier), appeared in the Darwin Magistrates Court on August 30 and the sentence was delivered today.

"The amount is within the provision that has already been set up in 2009 financial statements," Tevin said in the statement.

The company also noted that after the Montara incident, PTTEP AA worked closely with the Australian government and immediately volunteered to pay for all response and clean-up costs. The company also funds a long-term independent environmental monitoring programme in the Timor Sea.

PTTEP said earlier that production at the field would be resumed by the end of this year.

The Montara oil and gas field is located in the northern territory in block AC/RL3 650km west of Darwin in the Timor Sea, off northern Australia. Montara has recoverable reserves of 24 million barrels and is expected to produce 35,000bopd of light, low-sulphur crude. Montara was first discovered in March 1988 by BHP Billiton. Australian oil project developer Coogee Resources took over as the operator of the field in September 2003. In December 2008, PTT Exploration & Production acquired Coogee for $170m. The company was renamed as PTTEP Australasia.

The deal gave PTTEP 100 per cent control over the Montara development project, which includes Montara, Skua, Swift and Swallow fields. A total of ten wells, nine oil producers and one gas injection well are part of the Montara development project.

On 1 November 2009, a fire broke out at the West Atlas oil rig and the Montara well head platform during an attempt made to plug the leak in the well. The well leaked about 400 barrels of oil per day and an unspecified amount of condensate and natural gas into the Timor Sea before finally being plugged on 3 November 2009. First oil production from the Montara oil field is now expected in the third quarter of 2011.