Photo: Illustration; Source: Australian Government

Locals worried after Australia opens bidding for new offshore acreage

Australia has opened bidding for the 2021 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release, offering around 80,000 square kilometres for exploration in Commonwealth waters.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said on Tuesday that the release comprises 21 areas across the Bonaparte, Browse, Carnarvon, Otway, Sorell, and Gippsland basins off Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, and Ashmore and Cartier Islands.

The annual Acreage Release is a crucial component of the Government’s gas-fired recovery plan. It is vitally important that Australians have access to reliable and affordable energy both now and in the future.

Australia
2021 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release map

I congratulate the oil and gas industry for their management and commitment to exploration and production throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Exploration will continue to play a key role in supporting Australia’s economic growth by encouraging investment in development prospects, as well as unlocking additional supply”, Minister Pitt stated.

According to Pitt, this year’s release provides opportunities in established oil and gas provinces with existing infrastructure as well as under-explored areas offshore Victoria, also within reach of existing infrastructure.

This is consistent with the Government’s policy to deliver current projects as well as the potential to increase supply into the East Coast market.

The continued release of areas for exploration is important to providing a steady supply of energy for the future. I would welcome and encourage industry bidding on the released areas”, Pitt added.

All areas in the 2021 Acreage Release are based on industry nominations and were subject to a public consultation process. All areas are available for work-program bidding. Bidding will close on Thursday, 3 March 2022.

Tourist attraction under threat

The Australian arm of media outlet ABC said that locals were ‘furious over the decision to offer an area just five kilometres from the Twelve Apostles tourist attraction for offshore gas and oil exploration.

The area closest to shore is in southwest Victoria and the area is home to the Great Ocean Road and tourist attractions including the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, and Wreck Beach.

Australia
Twelve Apostles; Source: Visit12Apostles.com.au

Gillian Blair, a former Greens candidate and member of the southwest Victorian environmental group Protect The West, said: “The federal government is looking at supporting a gas industry which will be a stranded asset — no damned good economically within 10 years.

People in that area are worried — some of them have tried to take action on this. It’s really difficult when you’re up against a government that’s supporting huge corporations that are making money out of Australia — very little of it comes back to Australia, by the way.

There are all sorts of international organisations who are advised by thousands of scientists who’ve done lots of work on this subject who say that if we have any more coal, gas or oil exploration and release, then we are cooking our own goose“.