Santos has vowed to contest the legal proceedings initiated by the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) aimed at preventing the commencement of pipeline work at its Barossa gas project, situated off the northern coast of Australia.
Santos will face off in a legal battle with EDO, a non-governmental, non-profit organization specializing in legal services, representing an indigenous group seeking an injunction to halt Santos' pipeline work while the case unfolds.
Last week, the Environmental Minister, Tanya Plibersek, received a fervent plea from six indigenous elders on the Tiwi Islands, who urged her to take action to protect their heritage, which they claimed was under immediate threat of desecration due to the construction activities.
Santos has firmly denied the allegations put forth in the EDO's application, refuting claims of substantial environmental impacts or risks concerning submerged Tiwi cultural heritage. The company, which stands as Australia's second-largest independent gas producer, remains steadfast in its stance.
The EDO, as per information available on their official website, asserts that the traditional landowners will argue that Santos failed to conduct a proper assessment of the risks posed to cultural heritage along the route of its Barossa export pipeline. This pipeline spans a mere seven kilometers from Cape Fourcroy on Bathurst Island.
The legal battle has its roots in an incident from September 2022 when drilling at the Barossa project was abruptly halted. A judge ruled that an environmental approval was invalid due to failures in adequately consulting with the traditional landowners.
Despite these legal challenges, Santos has affirmed its commitment to its original production schedule, aiming to commence production at the Barossa project in the first half of 2025, all within the current cost estimate.
As the legal proceedings are underway, the outcome will have significant implications for both the project's timeline and the protection of indigenous cultural heritage in the region.