woodside energy
Minister for Resources Keith Pitt and a Woodside Energy development (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch; Woodside Energy)

Why would the government pay an oil company to clean up its own mess? 

That’s the question raised by a $8.8 million contract the federal government has handed to Woodside Energy on a limited-tender basis to advise it on decommissioning one of its own abandoned oil production vessels. 

In an announcement last month, Minister for Resources Keith Pitt said that the oil company -- which sold the vessel in 2016 to a shelf company that has since collapsed -- would be providing advice on what would be needed to decommission the facility, which is now threatening to spew oil into the ocean north of Darwin.