AusGroup ruffles feathers over Port Melville offshore marine supply base

Darwin: Australian oil & gas construction, maintenance and fabrication firm AusGroup is incurring the wrath of environmental lawyers over a deepsea port at Port Melville, on the Tiwi Islands off Darwin, which it acquired from Singapore’s Ezion Holdings late last year.

The port, which AusGroup says is as a marine supply base for the offshore oil and gas industry, was built in a wildlife area without any formal environmental impact assessments from either the state or federal governments. AusGroup took over ownership of the port when it acquired Ezion Holdings subsidiary Ezion Offshore Logistics Hub and its 90% stake in Teras Australia for S$55m ($41.4m). Of this sum, S$14m was paid in cash and the remainder in AusGroup shares, giving Ezion a 17.83% stake in AusGroup.

The head of the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NTEPA) told ABC News Australia that there are “gross deficiencies” in existing laws meaning companies could ignore the authority, and that there is no penalty in existence for any breach in state legislation, despite federal penalties existing.

Teras Australia entered into a 50-year lease agreement with Tiwi in 2012 for the construction and development of Port Melville and its associated fuel distribution facilities.

Grant Rowles

Grant spent nine years at Informa Group based in London, Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore. He gained strong management experience in publishing, conferences and awards schemes in the shipping and legal areas, working on a number of titles including Lloyd's List. In 2009 Grant joined Seatrade responsible for the commercial development of Seatrade’s Asia products. In 2012, with Sam Chambers, he co-founded Asia Shipping Media.
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