Western Australia, June 2008

Varanus Island gas explosion, 2008

Quick Statistics

1 Businesses Destroyed

At approximately 1.30pm on 3 June 2008, an explosion at the Apache Energy Varanus Island gas processing facility's 30 centimetre gas pipeline caused it to rupture and fires to start. Approximately 153 staff were evacuated from the plant. Nobody was injured, but the facilities were forced to close temporarily.

The incident caused Western Australia's domestic gas supply to be cut by 30 per cent, as the Varanus Island facility is a major exporter of gas to the mainland. The largest impact was felt by major industry partners of Apache Energy such as BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Burrup Fertilisers; the disruption in gas supplies also affected small businesses. A survey by the Western Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry found that of 300 businesses surveyed, almost half said they had been affected by the energy shortage.

The West Australian Government laid claims against Apache Northwest Pty Ltd and its co-licencees, Kufpec Australia Pty Ltd and Tap (Harriet) Pty Ltd for 'failing to maintain a pipeline in good condition and repair.' However after more than two years of litigation, the state government made a public statement that they were discontinuing the prosecution due to legal technicalities.

The Insurance Council of Australia estimated the 2008 damage at $230 million, with the 2011 estimated normalised cost of $279 million.


ABC News 2008, ‘Gas crisis serious for all Australians: PM’, 18 June 2008, website viewed 17 April 2012.
The Age 2008, ‘Fire ruptures WA gas supply’, 4 June 2008, website viewed 17 April 2012.

The Australian 2008, ‘WA gas supply cut 30pc by blast at Varanus Island’, 7 June 2008, website viewed 17 April 2012.
Department of Mines and Petroleum, Varanus Island Incident, 17 April 2012, website viewed 17 April 2012.

Insurance Council of Australia, Historical disaster statistics, April 2012, website viewed 17 April 2012.
Moore N (Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Fisheries; Electoral Affairs) 2012, Varanus Island prosecution withdrawn, media release, website viewed 17 April 2012.
WA Today 2008, ‘How the Varanus Island explosion unfolded’, 10 October 2008, website viewed 17 April 2012.