Varanus Island Report released

On 10 October 2008, the Western Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister, Norman Moore, released the final report into the Varanus Island pipeline explosion.  Sadly due to legislative restrictions the report is not being made available in an electronic edition accessible through the internet.  However, hard copies can be requested from the government.

Recent media statements indicate that “the immediate physical cause of the gas explosion at the island’s gas production facility operated by Apache Energy Ltd was the rupture of the 12-inch gas sales pipeline.”

Some media reports mention the dreaded n-word – negligence.  Apache Energy has stated that investigations into the 

Varanus Island explosion were premature and based on an incomplete investigation 

Contrary to most incident investigation techniques known to SafetyAtWorkBlog, Apache Energy says that it will continue to investigate in order to determine the “root cause”.  

Since the incident, there has been a change to a conservative State government so the statements contain a political edge.  The current Minister says that the terms of reference were too narrow and did not allow for investigation into “regulatory oversight” however deficiencies in this area were illustrated through media reports in the weeks following the incident.

The Minister has not ruled out ordering a  “a full and independent investigation into this issue… at a later date” but I suspect only if there were political benefits rather than safety benefits.  There are a considerable number of voices supporting a broader inquiry from unions and industry groups

The report is said to identify the following three contributing factors:

  • ineffective anti-corrosion coating at the beach crossing section of a 12-inch sales gas pipeline, due to damage and/or dis-bondment from the pipeline;
  • ineffective cathodic protection of the wet-dry transition zone of the beach crossing section of  a 12-inch sales gas pipeline on Varanus Island; and
  • ineffective inspection and monitoring by Apache Energy of the beach crossing and shallow water section of the pipeline.

Mr Moore stated that

“Under the safety case regime, the operator is required to identify hazards and assess risks to health and safety and to implement control measures to reduce those risks. The ongoing inspection, monitoring and maintenance of control measures are associated with those risks and the management regime. The report has indicated that Apache and its co-licensees may have committed offences under two pipeline Acts.”

A Senate inquiry is looking into the economic impact of the Western Australian gas crisis and the State Government’s response to the incident.

Categories business, disaster, government, pipeline, politics, safety, Uncategorized, workplaceTags , , ,

One thought on “Varanus Island Report released”

  1. Ta for bringing my attention to this incident KJ, I missed it.

    No doubt the investigation will come up with the same conclusion most of these things find: a lot of stuff went wrong at exactly the right time.

    The sooner the perspectives of people like Professor Andrew Hopkins gets adopted the better for mine. His focus on needing to understand the big picture of safety is right on the money. I reckon his \”Safety, culture and risk – the organisational causes of disasters\” (published by CCH) should be mandatory reading for OHS professionals. He looks at safety culture in way that makes lots of sense.

    Although I prefer to put a wee twist on his key ideas of comparing \”risk aware\” and \”risk averse\” organisations: I think the term \”risk averse\” is the better way to describe a company that is alert to risks and acts to sort them. Too many times people are aware of the risk and that\’s where it stops. What we need is an aversion to that risk, an inherent organisational motivation to seek out and get rid of the risk or at least under control.

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