(EnergyAsia, March 30) — Australia’s Origin Energy said work on the Bass Stratis gas project will be “significantly” delayed as a result of government orders to improve workplace safety measures.

State agency WorkSafe Victoria has found shortcomings in the project’s health, safety and environmental management system just before it was due to be fully commissioned. In January, operator Origin Energy had told the project’s joint venture partners that gas had been delivered to the offshore platform and that the facilities would progressively be commissioned.

The partners include operator Origin Energy Resources Limited (32.5%), Origin Energy Northwest Limited (5%), AWE Petroleum Pty Ltd 30%, CalEnergy Gas Australia Limited (20%) and Wandoo Petroleum Pty Ltd (12.5%).

Since then, Origin said the offshore platform has been commissioned and licensed to operate under the Petroleum Submerged Lands Act. Gas has been delivered through the offshore pipeline onto an onshore facility at Kilcunda, with the pipeline now at operating pressure. Construction work has continued at the onshore gas plant at Lang Lang, with construction work to allow the plant nearly complete.

Origin said that it was at this stage that WorkSafe Victoria audited the project for its health, safety and environmental standards.

The company said: “As a result of these audits, a number of improvement notices have been issued to Origin, as operator of the BassGas project, with respect to certain site procedures and administration of the permit-to-work system.

“Origin has already complied with a number of issues covered by these improvement notices. However there are several issues which remain to be satisfactorily resolved, which will significantly slow the progress of work at the plant.”

Grant King, managing director of Origin Energy, said: “It is disappointing that we have not been able to demonstrate that our site procedures meet all the requirements of WorkSafe Victoria at the time of this initial review. We are now focusing additional resources on demonstrating that our procedures are appropriate. While this will slow the progress of work at the plant, the safe start-up and operation of the plant is of primary importance.”

At this point, the duration of the delays associated with addressing these issues and subsequently completing the construction and commissioning activities at the Lang Lang plant cannot be easily quantified. Once these have been determined a new forecast for completion of the project and the delivery of first sales gas will be provided.

However, due to these delays, Origin advises that the BassGas Project is unlikely to make a significant contribution to the financial results of the project participants for the financial year ending 30 June 2005.