On March 11, 2009 the Pacific Adventurer was tousled by Cyclones just off of Australia’s Queensland coast. The rough seas caused its hull to pierce and a reported 270 tonnes of oil to be spilled into the sea. (Not to mention the 31 shipping containers of ammonium nitrate lost overboard.)

The Pacific Adventurer mishap was in the news everyday for weeks on end.

On August 21, 2009 came Australia’s latest oil leak courtesy of the PTTEP Australasia Montara well head which from day one has reportedly been spilling 400 barrels of oil each and every day. Yet aside from a minor news grab now and then and various blogs keeping the story alive there is little to no continual interest in this disaster.

The ongoing flood of this oil leak is being driven down the road of environmental tragedy by complacency.  This slippery track is carrying with it a very loud message to anyone listening that if you want to pollute Australian Waters go right ahead, just make sure you don’t do it off one of our tourist beaches.

Currently 3138 tonnes and increasing by 53 tonnes per day the PTTEP Australasia Montara well head continues to leak unhindered.

At 3,752,100 litres (That’s 3.75 million) it has a way to go before reaching the 40 million litres (34,000 tonnes) spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster of March 24, 1989, but this still makes it Australia’s third largest spill and 11 times greater than Pacific Adventurer.

Ranked Date Name Location Amount
First 21/07/1991 Kirki Cervantes Bay, WA 17,280t
Second 14/07/1975 Princess Anne Marie 300 miles Offshore, WA 14,800t
Third 21/08/2009 PTTEP Australasia Montara well head, WA 3138t *
Fourth 28/11/1903 Petriana Port Phillip Bay, VIC 1,300t
Eleventh 11/03/2009 Pacific Adventurer Cape Moreton, QLD 270t
* As at Monday, 19 October 2009

The Australian Government currently has two responses in action the first being the use of toxic dispersants and the second to negotiate a two year monitoring fund.

Neither of which are in any way an appropriate response to the magnitude of the situation.

After three failed attempts to plug the leak there still appears to be no urgency on the part PTTEP Australasia and the Australian Government appears willing to just sit by and watch.

PTTEP Australasia says it will try another attempt in four days but this time the Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett needs to step up and add some incentive to get the job done in the form of a substantial fine for each and every day the problem remains unsolved.

There is precedent for this in all levels of Australian bureaucracy, just try having something of yours leaking into Sydney Harbour and see how much you get penalised for each day that it continues.

Perhaps a good starting point for our Federal Environment Minister is the reported $350,000 fine bestowed upon the Pacific Adventurer.  Mr Garret could impose this amount as a daily penalty until the leak is plugged.

Major Oil Spills in Australia
Exxon Valdez oil spill
Conversion Tool
Oil tonneage


  1. […] the 19th October, 2009 I wrote Out of sight, Out of mind. It was to highlight the PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) Australasia Montara Well Head […]