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Gas giant Santos wins dispute with Indigenous man who claimed underwater pipeline would anger a ‘rainbow serpent’

Australia’s Federal Court has rejected an Indigenous man’s claim that gas giant Santos’ proposed underwater pipeline would cause anger two “ancestral beings” – a rainbow serpent and a crocodile man.

Judge Natalie Charlesworth on Monday dismissed Simon Munkara’s application to halt work on the 262km pipeline connecting the Barossa gas field north of the Tiwi Islands off the Northern Territory, Reuters reported.

Mr Munkara, a Tiwi Islander man, had argued the pipeline would anger and disturb the travel of Ampitji, a creation being also known as the rainbow serpent, and Jirakupai – the Crocodile Man.

He sought to force Santos to do a new underwater cultural assessment for the pipeline, but this was rejected by Ms Charlesworth who lifted a court injunction from November, allowing the gas company to resume work on the $5.8 billion project.

Ms Charlesworth found there was a “negligible chance that there may be objects of archaeological value in the area of the pipeline route” and noted Tiwi Islanders were divided over traditional accounts of the ancestral beings.

The gas company said in a statement: “Santos welcomes the decision of the Federal Court of Australia today.

“As per the ruling and in accordance with the Environment Plan in force for the activity, Santos will continue pipelaying activity for the Barossa Gas Project.”

The Barossa gas field project is still waiting on environmental plan approval, and is co-owned by South Korea’s SK E&S, and Japanese company JERA.

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