4 Nov 2009

Timor Sea oil rig leak stopped - owner

4:06 pm on 4 November 2009

An oil leak on a rig in the Timor Sea has been stopped, the rig's operator says.

Oil and gas have been leaking from the West Atlas rig, about 700km west of Darwin, since 21 August at an estimated rate of 400 barrels of oil a day.

The rig's operator, PTTEP Australasia, intercepted the leaking well on Sunday morning but the platform caught fire, hampering further efforts to cap the leak, the ABC reports.

The company says tens of thousands of litres of heavy mud was used in the fourth and successful attempt to stop the leak but the well is yet to be plugged and permanently secured.

PTTEP says the main fire on the platform has been extinguished but other, minor fires are still burning.

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett says the oil leak and fire has raised serious questions about the safety of a plan to pipe gas from the Browse Basin to Darwin.

The federal government on Saturday released a report revealing birds and marine species are at risk from the spill, but it says the full impact cannot be immediately determined.

A second, smaller leak in the Timor Sea at East Puffin Field has been running for more than seven weeks, but was made public only last week.