Santos (company)

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Santos Ltd.
Type Public
Traded as ASXSTO
Industry Energy
Founded 18 March 1954
Headquarters 60 Flinders Street
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Key people David Knox, CEO
Revenue A$2.762 billion (2008)[1]
Net income Increase A$1.65 billion (2008)[1]
Employees ~1,940 (2008)

Santos Ltd. is a large Australian oil and gas exploration company. Its name is an acronym for South Australia Northern Territory Oil Search.


Santos is Australia's largest domestic gas producer, supplying sales gas to all mainland Australian states and territories, ethane to Sydney, and oil and liquids to domestic and international customers.[2] The company's core business was built on gas and oil discoveries in the Cooper Basin, predominantly spanning north-east South Australia and South West Queensland. These gas reserves are the main source of natural gas to Australia's eastern states. Santos is the primary venture partner and operator of natural gas processing facilities at Moomba (in South Australia) and Ballera (in Queensland), and pipelines connecting those facilities with Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Rockhampton and Mount Isa.

It has made significant discoveries in the Browse Basin, off the northwest of Western Australia. On 22 August 2014 the company announced a major gas-condensate discovery at the Lasseter-1 exploration well in WA-274-P in the basin, in which Santos has a 30% interest in company with Chevron (50%) and Inpex (20%). It was the second major discovery by the company in the area in two years.[3]

Santos also loads product onto small Cape vessels at Port Bonython in South Australia.

Santos drill rig near Innamincka in cooper basin 1959

Santos has its headquarters in Adelaide. It also has offices in Brisbane, Perth and Jakarta.

International activities[edit]

The company also participates in on- and off-shore oil and gas exploration and production ventures throughout Australia, in the Timor Gap, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Vietnam and Kyrgyzstan.[2]


Santos has an interest in the Darwin LNG project, exporting liquefied natural gas to customers in Japan. It is also developer of the Gladstone LNG project in Queensland and is a partner in the PNG LNG project.[2]

Financial results[edit]

Santos's production for 2008 was 54.4 million barrels (8,650,000 m3) of oil equivalent.[1] Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortizations and exploration expenses for the period was A$2.8 billion, representing after tax profit of A$1.65 billion.[1] On 22 August 2014 the company said its oil production was at its highest level in six years. For the first half of 2014, Santos recorded sales revenue of $1.8-billion, an increase of 20% on the comparable period the previous year. Sales volumes rose by 5% to 28.9-million barrels of oil equivalent. As a result of the company writing-off its investment in a coal seam gas project in Indonesia, the 2014 first half profit being down 24% at $206 million.[3]


NASA satellite image of the Sidoarjo mud flow site, November 11, 2008.

Sidoarjo mud flow[edit]

In May 2006, the Sidoarjo mud flow disaster occurred in East Java, Indonesia. Controversy exists surrounding the probable cause of the disaster which has displaced approximately 10,000 people and covered villages, farms and industrial areas with mud. The eruption is ongoing, though since 2011 the rate of flow has reduced.[4]

As of 2013, the contended probable causes are: drilling for oil and gas, an earthquake with its epicenter some 250 km distant or a combination of the two.

Santos owned an 18 percent stake in the project which was drilling in the area at the time, under the control of PT Lapindo Brantas and in partnership with private Indonesian oil and gas company MedcoEnergi (50% and 32% stakeholders respectively). Santos' stake in the project was sold to Minarak Labuan, the owner of PT Lapindo Brantas in December 2008. Labuan also received a payment from Santos of $US22.5 million ($A33.9 million) "to support long-term mud management efforts". The amount was covered by existing provision for costs relating to the incident. Santos had provisioned for $US79 million ($A119.3 million) in costs associated with the disaster.

Santos had stated in June 2006 that it maintained "appropriate insurance coverage for these types of occurrences".[5]

Port Bonython groundwater contamination[edit]

Santos' Port Bonython facility and hydrocarbon export jetty, South Australia.

In May 2008, groundwater contamination was reported to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) following detection at Santos' Port Bonython site, Spencer Gulf, South Australia. Hydrocarbons were found floating on and in the groundwater. 150 inspection wells were later established, and a 450m long cement bentonite wall was constructed 'to stop the further spread of contamination off-site' including to the marine environment.[6][7] In May 2012, Santos reported declining rates of hydrocarbon recovery from groundwater extraction wells and claimed that their remediation efforts were working.[8]

Jackson oil spill[edit]

In May 2013, an uncontrolled oil spill was reported in Santos' Zeus field near Jackson in Queensland's remote south-west. The flow lasted 'almost a week' before international experts were able to contain it. The rate of flow was estimated at 50,000 litres per day.[9]

Water resource use[edit]

Santos Ltd's water extraction volumes by source within South Australia 2009 to 2013.

Santos' activities draw significantly on available water resources. In 2013, the three jurisdictions in which Santos consumed the greatest volume of water were Indonesia (12.5 gigalitres), Queensland (7.5 gigalitres) and South Australia (7 gigalitres). The company's water resource extraction and use is published in an annual Sustainability Report.[10]


Santos sponsors the Museum of Economic Botany at the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide.

Santos sponsors many community activities, events, institutions and projects in jurisdictions where they operate commercially. As of 2014, Santos spends $10 million annually on South Australian community groups and institutions.[11]

These include:

In South Australia[edit]

In Queensland[edit]

Fossil fuel divestment[edit]

In October 2014, the Australian National University sold its shares in Santos and several other companies in the nation's most reported case of fossil fuel industry divestment. Santos responded by claiming that gas is necessary in the state's future energy mix and The Advertiser published its economic value to the state. At the time it was reported that Santos employed 3500 people nationally, thousands of contractors and had a $13 billion market value.[16]

Politicians expressing their support for the company included the Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Federal MPs Jamie Briggs,[19] Christopher Pyne, James McGrath, Greg Hunt and Treasurer Joe Hockey.[20] Several senior state ministers also spoke out against the decision to divest in South Australia and Queensland, including South Australian Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis.[11] Former Liberal party leaders John Hewson and Malcolm Fraser both supported the University's right to choose how and where to invest its money.[20]

The University's Chancellor Gareth Evans told Australian Mining “Neither I nor the vice-chancellor nor any other ANU council member to my knowledge has described Santos specifically as a ‘socially irresponsible’ company." In a letter to Santos CEO David Knox, Evans said the university regretted any embarrassment suffered by Santos over the decision to divest.[21]


  1. ^ a b c d "Santo Reports 2008 Fourth Quarter and Full Year Results". OilVoice. 2008-02-20. Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  2. ^ a b c "Santos". OilVoice. Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  3. ^ a b "Higher interim dividend by Santos as oil and gas revenue rises". Australian News.Net. 21 August 2014. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  4. ^ "Sidoarjo Mudflow Erupting at Slower Rate, but No End in Sight, Govt Says" Jakarta Globe 2011-05-09. Retrieved 2013-12-27.
  5. ^ "Mud disaster -Santos no more liable,sells project stake" 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2013-12-27.
  6. ^ Port Bonython - Menard Bachy Menard Bachy (2010-08-24). Accessed 2013-12-27.
  7. ^ Further contamination at Santos' Port Bonython facility Environment Protection Authority (2010-11-18). Accessed 2013-12-27.
  8. ^ "Santos says oil-leak clean-up working" ABC News 2012-05-09. Accessed 2013-12-27.
  9. ^ "Santos confirms uncontrolled leak at oil and gas well in Queensland's remote southwest" 2013-05-20. Accessed 2013-12-27.
  10. ^ Sustainability Report 2013. Adelaide, South Australia: Santos Ltd. 2013. p. 39. 
  11. ^ a b c Starick, Paul (2014-10-22). "South Australian Senator Sarah Hanson-Young waging campaign against Santos and fossil fuels". The Advertiser. Retrieved 2014-10-23. 
  12. ^ South Australian Government - Environment Department "Botanic Gardens of Adelaide - About Us - Our Partners" Retrieved 2013-11-25.
  13. ^ "Come Out Festival for Young People" Santos, South Australia (2009). Retrieved 2014-01-21.
  14. ^ OzAsia Festival website (accessed 2013.11.01)
  15. ^ Accessed 2014-01-22.
  16. ^ a b "Establishing another champion of exploration and discovery" Santos Ltd (2009). Retrieved 2014-01-22.
  17. ^ The University of Adelaide "Australian School of Petroleum | Sponsors" Retrieved 2013-11-2
  18. ^ "Santos backs Queensland Art Gallery for five years" Santos (2009-11-24). Retrieved 2014-01-22.
  19. ^ Potter, Ben (2014-10-10). "ANU’s Santos blacklisting a disgrace and jobs threat, says Abbott minister". Financial Review. Retrieved 2014-10-23. 
  20. ^ a b Aston, Heath (2014-10-13). "John Hewson and Malcolm Fraser blast Liberals over ANU divestment backlash". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2014-10-13. 
  21. ^ Hagemann, Ben (2014-10-23). "ANU backpedals on divestment blacklist". Australian Mining. Retrieved 2014-10-23. 

External links[edit]