Report mostly supports Bight exploration

May 15, 2017

Members on an Australian Senate Inquiry have mostly supported oil and gas activities in the Great Australian Bight, subject to robust regulatory standards, says the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA).

The Senate Environment and Communications References Committee's report into oil or gas production in the Great Australian Bight only saw Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young oppose exploration and development. Two others didn't support exploration, but said there should be a mandatory period for public comment, while three supported exploration activities, subject to robust regulatory standards.

There has been a public backlash against drilling in the Great Australian Bight, with activists campaigning against exploration in the area.

In December, BP withdrew the environment plan it had submitted to Australia’s National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) for the Great Australian Bight after an ongoing back-and-forth between the company and NOPSEMA.

The submissions included an exploration drilling program for Stromlo-1 and Whinham-1 exploration wells.

Wood Mackenzie says the basin is exposed to harsh weather conditions and rough sea states, and developments will have to be built to high specification to withstand the conditions, however the Basin offers significant value creation potential for investors, based on its potential for large oil discoveries.

APPEA Director South Australia Matthew Doman said: “Australia’s offshore oil and gas industry has a long track record of safe operations and low environmental impact.

“In recent years, the regulatory framework has been enhanced by the creation of a strong, independent regulator, NOPSEMA, which does not allow petroleum activities to proceed without satisfying the highest standards of environment and safety management, and appropriate community consultation.

“Australia has had, for decades, a safe, sustainable offshore petroleum industry in Victorian and Western Australian waters.  There is absolutely no reason to doubt that South Australia can also support exploration and development in harmony with its marine environment.

“The economic benefits could be enormous.  While it is very early days, success in the Bight would attract substantial investment to South Australia and see significant local job creation – something the state desperately needs.”

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