Regulators Bight into BP plan to drill in SA waters


BP had their bid for exploratory drilling in South Australia’s Great Australian Bight rejected on environmental grounds yesterday according to a report by the ABC.

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environment Management Authority (NOPSEMA) said it wasn’t satisfied that the company’s environment plan met all of the regulatory requirements. The company wanted to start drilling as early as next year but failed to demonstrate how it would manage the risk of an oil spill, nor did it adequately address community concerns, many of which were raised by the strong local fishing and tourism industries.

The Wilderness Society have led the campaign opposing the drilling and their South Australian director, Peter Owens, today described the application as “inadequate”. “It doesn’t appear that BP even completed an oil pollution emergency plan or a comprehensive risk assessment,” Mr Owens said.

South Australian independent senator Nick Xenophon said the regulator’s decision showed there were “significant and unacceptable risks in the proposal”. This decision shows that what BP wants to do is hugely complex and risky and needs to have proper oversight and scrutiny,” he said. BP has refused to release its full environmental plan and today we can see why. The Great Australian Bight is a priceless Australian asset.”

However, it doesn’t appear that BP is likely to back down. “Yes, we are going to work hard and take the time to demonstrate we have got our EP [environment plan] right,” a BP spokesperson said. “It is usual for NOPSEMA to provide initial feedback that titleholders need to address before resubmitting an updated version. NOPSEMA is a diligent and thorough regulator and we expect to have to work hard and take the time to demonstrate that we have got our EP right,” they said.

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