The Montara oil spill and the National Marine Oil Spill Contingency Plan: disaster planning or just a disaster?

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Abstract

This study analyses the adequacy of the Australian Offshore Marine Oil Spill Contingency Plan in responding to petroleum platform-sourced oil spills, in light of the Montara Oil Spill in the Timor Sea in August 2009. After a consideration of the causes of the Montara Oil Spill, this study outlines the regulatory and response framework for marine oil spills in Australia, outlining the three pillars of oil spill planning, namely preparedness, training and response. The study then analyses the adequacy of the NatPlan and the National Marine Oil Spill Contingency Plan to address petroleum platform-sourced oil spills. This analysis highlights the weaknesses in oil spill preparedness, training and response to oil spills from oil installation-sourced oil pollution. In addition, it highlights the discord between the aim of the oil company to cap the leak, and the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority to preserve life through the implementation of a 'no go'zone around the Montara plaform. In responding to the weaknesses identified in this critical analysis, this study also offers possible changes to Australia's oil spill response strategy to ensure that the response to future petroleum platform-sourced oil spills are best practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-58
Number of pages13
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Maritime Law Journal
Volume24
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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