Origin Energy’s Dirty Track Record

Origin Energy claim to be all about “Good Energy”, but the truth is that they have a long history of unsafe, illegal and unethical conduct….

CANCER-CAUSING CHEMICAL BTEX found in eight Origin exploration wells (2010)

“Australia Pacific LNG is investigating why BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene) was detected in eight exploration wells at its coal seam gas site in the Western Downs' Surat Basin.

BTEX has been linked to cancer and is the same chemical group that infiltrated Cougar Energy's underground coal gasification site in Kingaroy in July.”

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Origin executives knew of OIL LEAKS into aquifers (2016)

“Origin Energy executives raised concerns about oil leaking into underground aquifers from its wells in Queensland more than a year and a half ago, documents obtained by The Australian show. The revelation appears to contradict repeated statements by Origin to The Australian that it did not know of any oil leaks into ­aquifers in Queensland’s Surat Basin, which sits atop Australia’s largest underground water supply, the Great Artesian Basin”

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Origin Energy suspends fracking over asbestos find (2014)

Origin Energy, operator of the Australia Pacific LNG project, has suspended drilling at coal seam gas sites in Queensland after asbestos was found in drilling fluids.

The company announced to the market today that it had taken the precautionary measure to suspend its drilling operations across 12 rig sites in south west central Queensland to allow for an investigation into a supply incident.

“This measure follows notification from one of our drilling fluid suppliers, Australian Mud Company, that an imported product (NUTPLUG) sometimes used in drilling fluids has been found to contain asbestos,” Origin said.”

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Power company Origin Energy has been fined the largest ever penalty for unlawful door-to-door sales tactics which "preyed on the vulnerable and ill-informed".

The Federal Court has ordered Origin pay $2 million in fines due to the conduct of its sales staff in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.

Origin's marketing company SalesForce Australia were also ordered to pay $325,000 in penalties.

The court found the staff engaged in unconscionable conduct, harassed or coerced customers and made false and misleading representations which breached the unsolicited consumer agreement provisions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Justice Katzmann said the sales representatives attempted to deceive "vulnerable and ill-informed" consumers in order to secure their custom.

"[The conduct] is serious, not only because of the deliberate deceptions and the exploitation of vulnerable consumers, but also because of the location and context in which the conduct occurred: at private homes to which the respondents were not invited," Justice Katzmann said.” 

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“Unconscionable conduct”, “deliberate deceptions”, and “exploitation of vulnerable consumers”: Origin Energy hit with TWO MILLION DOLLAR fine (2015)

Origin Energy’s head of production told staff it would take “many years” to bring the company’s gas and oilfield division up to standard, a damning internal compliance audit obtained by The Australian reveals.

The audit, issued in February 2014, detailed widespread compliance problems across Origin’s gas and oilfields in Australia and New Zealand, and gave the division an “unsatisfactory” mark — the second-lowest possible.

...more than a year after the audit was ­issued, Origin for the first time admitted to authorities that its gas processing plant at Lang Lang, in Victoria, was pumping into the air vastly higher amounts of toxic chemicals than allowed under its licence.

Regulators are circling Origin, with Victoria’s Environmental Protection Agency confirming the company remained in breach of its licence limits at Lang Lang and saying it would mount an in-depth probe of another of the company’s facilities, its Port Campbell gas refinery, after issuing it with a pollution abatement notice.”

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“Origin will ‘take years’ to raise the bar on compliance” (2016)

“The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Origin Energy Eraring Pty Ltd $15,000 after dust from an ash dam at the company’s Eraring Power Station was blown offsite during strong winds.

The EPA inspected the site on 27 September 2016 after the EPA’s Environment Line received multiple calls from members of the public reporting large quantities of dust escaping from the premises.

EPA Director Hunter Karen Marler said that Origin’s failure to appropriately manage the storage of ash was unacceptable.

‘While a strong north westerly wind caused the dust to leave the dam, this could have been avoided,’ Ms Marler said.

‘Management of ash is so important because it can cause impacts on the environment, including smothering aquatic environments and generating dust pollution.’”

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“Unacceptable”: Origin fined for coal ash dust emissions (2017)

“The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Origin Energy Eraring Pty Ltd $15,000 for alleged excessive dust emissions from the Eraring Power Station.

EPA Director Hunter Karen Marler said multiple witnesses observed excess dust at the power station over a sustained period in September last year.

The dust was the result of a vacuum truck depositing dry ash in high winds.

It appears that Origin did not follow their own management practices to minimise dust despite having received a Penalty Notice for a similar alleged offence in January 2017.”

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Origin fined (again!) for coal ash dust emissions (2019)

“The Basin Sustainability Alliance (BSA) is calling for an investigation into the environmental and health impacts of a large volume of gas released from a 90km stretch of Origin Energy LNG pipeline which upset cattle and took landholders by surprise.

"After the first release, we understand Origin expanded their notification area. If they can get something as straightforward as noise modelling so wrong, then how can we be sure the CSG companies have a handle on other risks," Ms Nicholson said.

"With another compressor station within a kilometre from the Downfall Creek site, a public road only 250 metres away, and about 12 families within a 10km radius, we need to be asking why there was little to no supervision of the release by government environmental authorities."

"If someone comes to service a household air-conditioner, they have to capture the gas, so why are CSG companies allowed to let this gas go into the atmosphere? We are spending millions of dollars trying to reduce CO2 emissions and yet, the comparative impact of methane on climate change is understood to be about 25 times greater than CO2."

"While there was pressure on the cattle industry to be looking for ways to reduce methane emissions from cattle, the CSG industry seems to be allowed to fly under the radar."”

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“Little to no supervision”: Origin Energy release 90 kilometres worth of potent greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere from their pipeline (2015)

“The Federal Court of Australia has ordered… Origin Energy Limited and two of its subsidiaries [to] pay penalties totalling $325,000 for contravening the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) by making false or misleading representations concerning the level of discount that residential consumers in South Australia would receive under a DailySaver energy plan, in proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.”

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“False or misleading representations”: Origin fined $325,000 by ACCC (2015)

“Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined Origin Energy Resources Pty Ltd more than $7,500 and issued it with an official warning for breaching its EPA licence at its Port Campbell plant.  

EPA South West Manager Eve Graham said EPA was notified twice by Origin of a breach of its stack emission limits for benzene on 19 February 2016 and 28 April 2016. 

Benzene is a chemical that can be found in industrial processes, fuels, cigarette smoke and some natural sources such as bushfires.”

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Origin Energy fined & officially warned by EPA for benzene emissions (2016)

“The Federal Court has by consent ordered penalties totalling $8.3 million against Renegade Gas Pty Ltd (trading as Supagas NSW, a privately owned company) (Renegade Gas), Speed-E-Gas (NSW) Pty Ltd (Speed-E-Gas) (a wholly owned subsidiary of Origin Energy Limited), and three current and former senior officers of the two companies for engaging in cartel conduct.

Justice Gordon said “The Respondents’ conduct contravened the Act through a deliberate, largely covert, long standing understanding which had the potential to adversely affect a high proportion of manufacturing and distribution businesses across Sydney and which likely had an adverse effect on those businesses that were denied the opportunity of receiving a price competitive offer from either Renegade or Speed-E-Gas during the Relevant Period”.”

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“Cartel conduct”: Wholly-owned Origin Energy subsidiary fined $3.1 million (2014)

Origin Energy will slash more than a third of its 1,600 jobs in Queensland with most of the cuts to affect its Brisbane head office.

Staff at the Brisbane-based oil and gas producer and energy retailer were informed by email this morning that around 650 jobs will be cut this year with 500 workers to lose their jobs as early as April.

Origin sacked about 800 workers in 2015 when oil and gas prices collapsed, and late last year the company said it would cut more than half a billion dollars in annual costs.

Origin Energy has been through a tough couple of years, marked by weaker oil prices and a third consecutive year of big losses with the 2017 net profit loss of $2.22 billion.

Its cumulative loses since 2015 is $3.8 billion, and since 2014 Origin's share price has been halved, which is roughly in line with the reduction in oil price.

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Origin Energy slashes 650 jobs in Queensland (2018)