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Indigenous Australians Petition Korea Court Over $3.6bn Pipeline

People from Tiwi Islands and Larrakia Traditional Owners seek injunction from Seoul Central District Court to block loans to deep-sea pipeline planned off northern Australia

The Barossa project is led by Australia's Santos and partners include South Korean energy company SK E&S. Photo: Reuters.


A group of indigenous Australians has gone to court in South Korea seeking to block the country’s export credit agencies from funding a deep-sea gas pipeline for the $3.6 billion Barossa gas project off northern Australia.

People from the Tiwi Islands and Larrakia Traditional Owners are seeking an injunction from the Seoul Central District Court to block the Export-Import Bank of Korea and the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation from providing loans.

They say they were not properly consulted on the project and a planned pipeline will threaten turtles, dugongs and other sea life on which the islanders depend.

“By taking the South Korean Government to court to stop this gas project, we are protecting our family and our land,” Tiwi traditional owner Daniel Munkara, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement.

If the loans and loan guarantees potentially worth around $700 million are blocked, that could delay the project, the groups said.

The two South Korean export credit agencies had no immediate comment.

The Barossa project, due to start producing gas in 2025, calls for the construction of a roughly 260 kilometre (162-mile) pipeline that will connect offshore gas facilities to an existing pipeline that runs to Darwin.

The project is led by Australia’s Santos and partners include South Korean energy company SK E&S.

Santos declined to comment on the legal action but said the Barossa project has all the necessary approvals in place.

“As is the case for all of our projects, we undertake consultation with all key stakeholders where they receive detailed information about the project,” a Santos spokesperson said.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean OMeara




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Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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