Australian court allows Santos pipeline to proceed after dismissing Tiwi Islanders’ case

An Australian court has dismissed an attempt by members of the indigenous population of the remote Tiwi Islands to block a new gas pipeline being built by oil and gas major Santos, ruling that it would not endanger the cultural heritage of the Timor Sea region.

The legal challenge to the Barossa development, which has an estimated $2.7bn construction cost, had disrupted the establishment of the pipeline, which is one of Australia’s biggest new offshore gas developments.

Members of the Tiwi Islands community successfully challenged the planning permission granted to Santos in 2022, and a new challenge to Barossa launched last year has left the project in suspension.

A judge ruled on Monday that the pipeline could go ahead, sending shares in Santos, which is in talks with rival Woodside over a merger, up more than 2 per cent. The project is intended to transport natural gas from the Timor Sea to a terminal in Darwin in Australia’s north, before being shipped to Asia for use.

Santos said in a statement that it welcomed the ruling and would continue pipe laying in accordance with its environmental plan.