Australian offshore regulator NOPSEMA has advised that it needs more time to assess BP’s environmental plan for the drilling of the Stromlo-1 and Whinham-1 exploration wells in the Great Australian Bight.
Meanwhile, Australia’s oil and gas industry group APPEA has slammed the Australian Green Party’s proposal to ban drilling in the Bight.
APPEA Director South Australia Matthew Doman said legislation introduced in the Senate today by the Greens was unnecessary and economically damaging.
Doman said any exploration in the Bight would only proceed under the highest environmental standards and only after intense scrutiny by NOPSEMA.
“The legislation proposed by the Greens would undermine NOPSEMA’s independence and integrity and the regulatory certainty that is necessary to attract new investment in offshore exploration,” said Doman.
“Australia already imports most of its oil. Unless new discoveries are made, we will soon be relying on imports for all of our transport fuels.
“Companies that are prepared to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in exploration activity should be allowed to get on with the job.”
Doman said oil and gas exploration, as well as other commercial activities such as fishing, had been allowed in the Great Australian Bight marine reserve since 1995 and a recent government review had recommended no change to its multiple use status.
Environmentalists and the Green Party say that drilling in the area containing a marine park would threaten marine life, fisheries and eco-tourism operators.
“The Parliament has to step in and make sure that this this national treasure is protected for generations to come,” said South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. “BP will put this spectacular marine park at risk and, if they’re given approval, there are several other companies lining up behind them.
“Allowing the company responsible for the Gulf of Mexico spill to drill in the Great Australian Bight is a disaster waiting to happen.”
NOPSEMA will deliver its next assessment decision for this plan by September 29.