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Western Australia Drops Case Against Apache Over Varanus Gas Explosion

PERTH -(Dow Jones)- The Western Australia government said Thursday it has discontinued legal action against Apache Corp. (APA) and its partners over a 2008 gas-pipeline explosion at the Varanus Island processing facility off the state's North West coast. The government withdrew the prosecution case, launched in 2009, in response to new information and evidence provided by Apache and its co-licensees during pre-trial proceedings, Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore said in a statement. The government had intended to charge Apache with failing to maintain a pipeline in good condition and repair, Moore said. Moore said he was "angry" that the U.S.-based energy firm would not face the allegations in court because of what he believed to be legal technicalities related to words used in a pipeline license variation issued in 1992. However, there was "no reasonable prospect of success for the State to prove two essential elements of the prosecution," Moore said. An Apache spokesman said the company declined to comment. A section of pipeline at Varanus exploded in June 2008, cutting the state's gas supplies by 30% and causing costly power disruptions to industries. -By Stephen Bell, contributing to Dow Jones Newswires; 61-8-9244-4243; sgbell@bigpond.com

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