A Woodside representative confirmed there had been “two separate incidents in January on a contractor vessel while it was working on the installation of the Scarborough trunkline”. Neither incident caused injuries. There was “localised damage to the trunkline … which will be remediated”.
Safety, the environment and assets is Woodside’s “highest priority on all activities. We are continuing to support our contractor in their ongoing work on the trunkline installation.”
Further questions were referred to Saipem. Saipem confirmed an incident had taken place on the Castorone during pipelaying offshore Australia.
It confirmed there was damage to the trunkline, but said the Castorone had not sustained major damage. Saipem shares were down around 10% in trading in Milan.
WA Today reported the incident had “ripped a gaping hole in the pipeline”. As a result, water has flowed into the pipeline.
The Castorone lost control of the pipeline, the newspaper reported, forcing the evacuation of workers.
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) said that, overnight, the “pipeline has now buckled and been flooded”. The union went on to say the Castorone would have to return to Broome and probably be down manned.
“Saipem’s handling of the scope of work has been nothing short of disastrous, exacerbating the difficulties faced by Woodside’s Scarborough project,” said the union. It said the vessel inspection of the Castorone showed it had been “mismanaged on a major scale … as things stand, the Scarborough project will likely end up well into 2025”.
The Maritime Union said the Castorone had faced “workplace issues” since mobilising in Singapore. It reported that dynamic positioning (DP) had failed earlier this month, resulting in the pipe being “dropped into the drink”.
The Offshore Alliance (OA), another labour movement in Australia, said Saipem had been “lucky not to kill workers” on the Castorone earlier this year in a “major incident”.
The two union groups had issued warnings to Woodside, about “the poor safety and maintenance culture of Saipem”, the OA said. The group said it would provide a comprehensive report on Saipem’s problems in due course.
Saipem won the Scarborough work in January 2022 for Castorone. The contract covered the export trunkline coating and installation, to connect the Scarborough field to the onshore plant. The field is in the Carnarvon Basin, off Western Australia.
A 430 km trunkline runs to the Pluto LNG facility, where gas will go into a second train. Saipem said the aim was to deliver a first cargo in 2026. The Castorone was working in water depths of up to 1,400 metres, terminating in 950 metres of water.