APPEA slams proposed anti-drilling bill

APPEA, an organization speaking for the Australian oil and gas industry, has slammed the Green Party’s proposal to ban drilling in the Great Australian Bight, off southern Australia.

Earlier this week, environmentalists and the Green Party have lashed out against BP’s soon-to-be-decided-on drilling plan, saying that drilling in the area containing a marine park would threaten marine life, fisheries and eco-tourism operators.

The Green Party even said it would propose a bill to the Senate that would see the Great Australian Bight marine park “protected from companies wanting to drill for oil and gas.”

“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.”

The regulating body NOPSEMA is due to rule on BP’s latest application for a license to drill in the Bight within a week, and the Greens are calling for the decision to be delayed so that greater scrutiny of the proposal can be undertaken.


Related: Greens against BP’s Bight drilling amid faulty equipment scare


Offshore Energy Today has reached out to BP seeking comment on the potential impact of the proposed bill on its offshore operations in the area. BP did not respond.

While we have yet to hear from BP, APPEA, a body representing the oil and gas industry in Australia, has warned that a ban on drilling in the Great Australian Bight would possibly increase Australia’s dependence on imported oil and “deprive South Australia of much-needed new investment and jobs while delivering no environmental benefit.”

The organization’s director for South Australia, Mathew Doman, said: “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.

“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.”

He said put faith in NOPSEMA’s abilities and integrity, adding that any proposed drilling would only proceed after intense scrutiny by NOPSEMA.

“With proper regulatory oversight, there’s no reason why South Australia cannot have a safe, sustainable offshore petroleum industry, just Victoria and Western Australia have had for several decades.

The BP plan

British oil company BP has recently submitted a second environment plan proposing drilling of two exploration wells in the Great Australian Bight.

The oil firm’s first plan, proposing four exploration wells, was rejected by the Australian offshore safety and environmental management authority NOPSEMA, as it didn’t meet the regulatory requirements.  NOPSEMA is expected to come back with the decision by September 19, 2016.

BP’s second environment plan entitled “Great Australian Bight Exploration Drilling Programme (Stromlo-1 and Whinham-1)” proposes to drill two wells.

The wells are Stromlo-1 and Whinham-1 respectively and will be drilled using the world’s largest semi-submersible drilling rig, the Ocean Greatwhite.

Stromlo-1 is located some 600 kilometers west of Port Lincoln and 400 kilometers southwest of Ceduna, in a water depth of approximately 2250 meters. Whinham-1 is located approximately 600 kilometers west of Port Lincoln and 350 kilometers m southwest of Ceduna, in a water depth of approximately 1150 meters.

According to the proposed plan, the drilling program is scheduled to start from Q4 2016 to Q1 2017. BP anticipates that each well will take approximately 75 days to drill. In the event of any technical or equipment delays, the duration may be greater, so the assessment for each of the wells has allowed for up to 150 days. NOPSEMA is expected back with the decision by September 19, 2016.