Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

After the Oil Spill

oil spill

The oil spill at Montara lasted for 74 days.

By Asa Wahlquist

Just 4 years after the Montara oil spill, scientists have compiled the most detailed description yet of the wildlife, fish and habitats of the Timor Sea as they monitor the recovery of the species affected by the spill.

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Dozens of scientists and researchers have produced a scientifically rigorous set of findings on turtles, sea snakes and commercial fish species of the Timor Sea; on bird populations; on corals and mangroves; and on Australia’s the north-west coastline, as well as an array of tiny islands, shoals and cays.

This scientific research – undertaken as part of the Montara Environmental Monitoring Program – was instigated as a result of an oil spill that occurred on 21 August 2009 and lasted for 74 days. The research was funded by petroleum exploration and production company PTTEP Australasia in cooperation with the federal Department of the Environment.

Montara is located 180 km from the Australian coast. The spill led to the release of an estimated 30,000 barrels of oil. The light orange oil was more water-soluble than the familiar black crude; 99% of the oil remained within 82 km of the spill site. Most of its toxic elements were gaseous and quickly evaporated.

As part of its response to the oil spill, PTTEP collaborated with a range of Australian authorities and organisations, quickly commissioning a unique cross-institutional team of scientists to build the most accurate, detailed and fully independent account possible of the fate, impact and influence of the spilled oil.

No oil reached the Australian mainland or Indonesian coast. The closest...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.