Calls for Stronger Regulatory Action After ExxonMobil’s Gas Pipeline Rupture Offshore Australia

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is advocating for increased regulatory oversight following a recent gas pipeline rupture at an aging offshore platform in the Gippsland Basin off the Victorian coast. The incident, which occurred on April 6, 2024, at West Kingfish (WKF), operated by ExxonMobil subsidiary Esso, resulted in an uncontrolled release of condensate into the ocean, creating a visible sheen heading towards the Victorian coastline.

The MUA emphasizes the need for tighter regulations, enforcement, penalties, and transparency in offshore oil and gas activities in Australian waters, citing concerns about the growing number of incidents and near misses in the sector. Robert Lumsden, Maritime Union’s Victoria Branch Secretary, emphasized the importance of regulatory compliance and enforcement to ensure workplace safety and environmental protection.

The MUA’s concerns are compounded by previous incidents, including an emergency evacuation in November due to a lack of contingency planning. The West Kingfish platform is currently under multiple enforcement directions from Australia’s National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), highlighting ongoing safety issues.

Jamie Newlyn, MUA’s Assistant National Secretary, stressed the importance of transparent and safe industry operations, particularly as new technologies like carbon capture and storage (CCS) are being considered. The union is actively engaging in legislative review processes to address safety standards and worker protections within the offshore petroleum sector.

The MUA’s efforts reflect a broader call for improved safety measures and worker empowerment in Australia’s offshore energy industry.

Image credit: ExxonMobil