Oil & Gas Leak Prompts Evacuation of West Atlas

PTTEP Australasia confirms that a crude oil and gas leak incident occurred at 0530 (Darwin time) in the Montara development in the Timor Sea approximately 690 kilometers west of Darwin in the Northern Territory and 250 kilometers northwest of Truscott in Western Australia. The company has activated its emergency management procedures and authorities have been notified.

The 69 personnel onboard the West Atlas were evacuated from the rig and have been transferred safely to other work vessels. All personnel are safe and there were no injuries. Weather in the area is calm with light north east winds.

PTTEP has notified authorities as part of its emergency response. The Australian Marine Oil Spill Centre (AMOSC) is mobilizing aircraft and dispersant to be in Darwin tonight and to begin aerial spraying of the spill tomorrow.

The size of the spill is not known. Approximately 40 barrels of oil were discharged from the wellhead in the initial incident. Since then, condensate has been discharged at pressure dispersed in the gas stream.

The West Atlas is operated by Seadrill and is under contract to PTTEP Australasia (Ashmore Cartier) Pty Ltd.

The Montara Development consists of the Montara, Skua, Swift and Swallow oil fields and is located in Production Licence AC/L7 and AC/L8 in the East Timor Sea. The field is expected to begin producing in late 2009. The Montara wellhead platform is normally unmanned. The rig had been engaged in well operations conducted through the platform at the time of the incident.

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority (NOPSA) has formed an investigation team and is conducting a preliminary investigation. NOPSA continues to monitor the situation. The timing of further NOPSA investigatory action is dependent upon the well being brought under control by the operators.