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Thursday, 22 May 1969

Senator CANT asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:

1.   As the Minister responsible for the administration of the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1967-1968, has the Minister seen a report from Darwin that the oil rig tender vessel 'Missouri' has been arrested in Darwin Harbour?

2.   Has the writ of arrest since been lifted by the High Court?

3.   Was it then found that a sea-cock on the vessel had been left open, causing flooding of the vessel, including the generator?

4.   Is it a fact that the flooding of the vessel would put it out of commission for several days, in addition to the days it was under arrest?

5.   ls the 'Missouri' yet back in commission; if not, when will it be in commission again? 6 If the vessel is again in commission, for how long was it out of commission?

7.   Was the 'Missouri' the only life line between Darwin and Lacrosse No. 1 well?

8.   What is the distance between Darwin and Lacrosse No. 1 well?

9.   What life line was provided by the Western Australian Designated Authority to supervise the laws applicable to the adjacent area of the State, under the provisions of section 9 of the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act, during the period the Missouri' was out of commission?

10.   What measures has the Minister taken to ensure that the terms of the Commonwealth Act, including section 97, have been complied with during the period the 'Missouri' was out of commission?

11.   What measures did the operating company take to ensure that the exploration al Lacrosse No. 1 well was carried out in a proper and workmanlike manner and in accordance with good oil field practice during the period the 'Missouri' was out of commission?

12.   What measures did the operating company employ to ensure the safety, health and welfare of the persons engaged in exploration operations during the period the 'Missouri' was out of commission?

13.   What alternative life line, if any. was provided by the employer during the period the Missouri1 was out of commission?

14.   Is the Minister satisfied that the State Designated Authority and the employer provided adequate alternate lines of communication during this period to satisfy the responsibility of the Minister, the State Designated Authority and the employer with respect to the terms of Act No. 118 of 1967, particularly sections 9 and 97?

15.   Was the 'Missouri' registered in Australia or overseas?

16.   Were the personnel qualified within the meaning of the provisions of the Commonwealth Navigation Act and the regulations made thereunder?

17.   Did the vessel comply with the manning provisions of the Commonwealth Navigation Act and the regulations made thereunder?

Senator SCOTT-The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

1.   Yes.

2.   Yes.

3.   According to the company's report the cause of the flooding was that the water had entered the engine room through an overboard discharge line. Discharge lines normally contain two valves. One is a check valve to allow liquids to be pumped overboard but not return and the other is a positive shut off valve which will not allow flow in either direction. The positive shut off valve had been left open and the check valve apparently developed a leak and allowed the water to back up into the engine room.

4.   Yes.

5.   Yes.

6.   The 'Missouri' was arrested at 1530 hours on 13th March 1969 and was back in commission at 2020 hours on 18th March 1969.

7.   No.

8.   200 nautical miles. 9., 10., 11., 12., 13. and 14. A report by the company on the incident was received and accepted by the Designated Authority for the adjacent area of Western Australia. The report contained an assurance that at no time was the drilling platform or the personnel on board in any danger as a result of the 'Missouri' being out of commission. All personnel movement from Darwin is by fixed wing aircraft to Fort Keats and by either of two helicopters based on the drilling platform from Port Keats to the rig. Both helicopters were on board and in operating condition, A second supply vessel 'Sedco Helen' was also servicing the rig.

On 16th March, to ensure continuity of supply, a third vessel, the 'Haeremai Star', was chartered and kept in service until after the 'Missouri' returned to service;

15.   Overseas (United States of America). 16 and 17. T am informed by my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, that the personnel did not possess qualifications recognised under the Navigation Act, nor did the vessel comply with the detailed manning provisions of that Act, but as is the position with any other American vessel visiting Australian waters, there was no obligation on the owners to observe such requirements. The manning, however, was regarded as adequate for the purposes of the seaworthiness provisions of the Act contained in section 207.

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