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Correcting the record—Montara

Thursday 22 March 2018

Correcting the record

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has become aware of documents that indicate oil from the Montara wellhead spill was sighted closer to the Indonesian coast than previously stated and reported publicly.

The previously stated closest sighting of oil was by an observer aboard a flight on 21 September 2009. The observer reported oil approximately 94 kilometres (51 nautical miles) from the Indonesian coast at Pulau Roti.

A recent review of flight briefing and observer reports indicates there was a further flight conducted on 22 September 2009 where the observer reported oil approximately 65 kilometres (35 nautical miles) from the Indonesian coast.

The air observer's written report from 22 September flight was misfiled.  As a result, AMSA inadvertently overlooked the report when providing records to the Montara Commission of Inquiry.

AMSA confirms that the observer's sightings during the 22 September flight were acted upon at the time. Surface assets were sent to the locations of the most significant sightings from the flight to carry out containment and recovery operations at those locations during the days following the sightings. Containment and recovery uses inflatable boom to encircle the spill and skimming equipment to remove it from the water and into holding tanks on supporting vessels.