TRAIL OF TEARS: Route of the disused Santos oil pipeline which is stopping hundreds of Ipswich residents from building.
TRAIL OF TEARS: Route of the disused Santos oil pipeline which is stopping hundreds of Ipswich residents from building. Contributed

INSIDE STORY: Disused pipeline stops hundreds from building

UPDATE 7AM: Santos has responded to criticism that they are preventing hundreds of residents from building over a disused oil line but Cr Paul Tully says that response has "more spin than a 78 rpm record".

Cr Tully has called on the company to relinquish their easements over a disused 300km oil pipeline from Moonie to Brisbane that prevents residents from building physical structures such as garden sheds, garages and pools over the pipeline.

If Santos won't act unilaterally on the easements, Cr Tully has called on the State Government to legislate to force their hand.

The company has not responded on the record about its plans to relinquish the easements, although the QT has learned a decommissioning plan has been developed by Santos with a timeframe yet to be determined.

It is unclear whether that means they will relinquish the entire easement or just bits and pieces such as pumps.

The QT will seek clarification on this point, which will be of great interest to the hundreds of residents who live above the pipeline which runs through Ipswich from Grandchester to Carole Park and travels through Brisbane's suburbs to the Port of Brisbane.

Either way, Cr Tully said Santos had so far "failed to address the key issue of relinquishing the easements".

The QT understands concrete infrastructure such as driveways can be placed over the pipeline, however physical structures such as buildings or pools cannot.

"Work can still be done on the pipeline easement, we just need to review applications to make sure it is done safely, as is the case with any underground infrastructure such as electrical or wastewater," a Santos spokesperson said in response to Cr Tully's earlier comments in the QT.

"We would typically be required to review anywhere from 50 to 100 applications per year, and every application we've reviewed over the past several years has been approved, sometimes with changes, for developments including subdivisions, service stations and schools."

Cr Tully has received numerous complaints from residents who are still angry they cannot build over the pipeline and improve their homes.

He said the Santos response did not address the key issue.

"Their response is an insult to hundreds of Ipswich and Brisbane property owners who are prevented from building over the easement," he said.

"Santos should come clean. Do they have a secret plan to re-use the easement in the future for another oil pipeline from Moonie to Brisbane?

"Their media statements have more spin than a 78 rpm record."

The QT understands the pipeline is currently full of dry air at zero pressure and poses no safety or environmental risk.


EARLIER: A disused Santos oil pipeline running through hundreds of Ipswich residential properties is preventing people from building pools, garages and sheds in their yards and has been for more than 50 years.

So now Ipswich councillor Paul Tully is calling on Santos to act to extinguish the easements which they hold along the pipeline that runs through Ipswich from Grandchester to Carole Park, and travels through Brisbane's southern suburbs to the Port of Brisbane.

And if they won't do it willingly, Cr Tully has called on the State Government to legislate so that they must.

Cr Tully pointed out they were easements Santos could never use again.

He said they now needed to forfeit their claim to the easements for the 300km line so that the registered easements could be removed from property owners' titles.

Cr Tully has had residents from Bellbird Park, Raceview and Camira complain to him that they had applied to a building certifier for a shed or pool, and because they had an easement their applications were rejected by Santos.

"It was an oil pipeline commissioned via a series of easements from Moonie to Brisbane in 1964," Cr Tully said.

"They then decommissioned that pipeline after a major oil leak in Brisbane in 2007.

"The government at the time put pressure on Santos to decommission the pipeline and undertake never again to use it for oil.

"But the problem is that a lot of people have the pipeline going through their residential properties and they can't put pools in and they can't build garages or garden sheds.

"It is high time that Santos forfeited their claim to these easements because there are a lot of people in Ipswich, and Brisbane as well, who are impacted."

Cr Tully said it made no sense for Santos to retain rights to the easements.

"It is an abandoned oil line so why should it stay on people's title? Why should it be an impediment to them improving their properties?

"It is about time Santos stood up to their corporate responsibility.

"It is a pipeline people can't build adjacent to, and they certainly can't build over it

"Santos are being unreasonable over this and they should walk away from the easement.

"If Santos is not prepared to act unilaterally then I am calling on the State Government, by legislation, to extinguish the easement along the pipeline route."

Cr Tully said residents' patience had worn completely thin.

"Santos decided to close the pipeline after a major spill at Algester in July 2007 of more than 100,000 litres of oil caused 400 homes to be evacuated," Cr Tully said way back in 2010.

"The easement also affects works over or adjacent to the pipeline and easement such as excavation (hand or machinery), tree planting, moving heavy equipment, building drains, changing land profiles, trenching, boring, blasting and building structures.

"In all these situations, prior written approval is required from Santos.

"In a recent case, a Bellbird Park property owner adjacent to the pipeline was prevented from further developing his land by Santos."

The QT asked Santos for comment but did not receive one by deadline.

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