Sea Shepherd Sets Sail on Australian Campaign

Steve Irwin
Steve Irwin departs Williamstown, Victoria, Australia. Credit: Sea Shepherd

By MarEx 2016-08-04 04:13:46

The Sea Shepherd vessel the Steve Irwin left Williamstown, Victoria, on Thursday to begin an anti-drilling campaign in the Great Australian Bight.
The organization states that, according to independent oil spill modelling released last year, an oil spill in the Bight from a deep-sea well blowout would be devastating for fisheries, tourism and marine life. Even a low-flow oil spill could impact all of southern Australia’s coast, from Western Australia to Victoria through Bass Strait and around Tasmania.

Named Operation Jeedara, the voyage will showcase the landscape and marine diversity of the region. “It is Sea Shepherd’s aim to showcase what we would all lose if BP were allowed to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight and had another Gulf of Mexico, Deep Water Horizon oil spill of lesser or equal value,” said the organization in a statement.

Mirning elder and whale song man Bunna Lawrie will be joining the expedition, "We need Australians to realise that there is only one Great Australian Bight, that has the largest southern right whale nursery and whale sanctuary, and not to mention the countless other marine life diversity, making this place so rare and globally unique. This campaign is important to not only me, but also our other Mirning elders and people, we must all realize that the bight is a beautiful gift for us and other generations coming to enjoy it, to live in harmony with nature, and that does not mean allowing BP to drill for oil in the Bight."

Steve Irwin Captain Wyanda Lublink from the Netherlands stated, "There is now irrefutable evidence that climate change is real. With the impacts of climate change being felt on the land and the sea, our planets ability to support life hangs by a thread. With the recent Paris Climate Summit agreement, in a bid to keep temperatures below a global 1.5 degrees Celcius increase, we have to keep all remaining fossil fuels in the ground. Drilling for more climate altering oil while putting the Great Australian Bight at risk, is another nail in our planet’s coffin."

Australian environmentalist, Dr Bob Brown will also travel with the ship for part of the voyage.

BP Delay

In July, Australia’s offshore petroleum regulator NOPSEMA granted BP an extension for resubmission of its environmental plan for the drilling. The modified plan is now expected to be resubmitted by August 31.

BP’s environment plan was previously dismissed by the agency in November 2015, also due to a failure to meet the regulatory requirements.

BP proposes to drill four exploration wells. Exact well locations are yet to be determined for all wells, however they will be drilled within a defined drilling area. The proposed drilling area has water depths of approximately 1,000 to 2,500 meters. At its closest point, the proposed drilling area is approximately 400 kilometers west of Port Lincoln and 300 kilometers south-west of Ceduna. The wells will be drilled using a new-build mobile offshore drilling unit which has been specially designed for use in deep water.

The project is scheduled to commence in the summer of 2016-2017, with each well taking between 45 and 170 days to drill.