Bight

Australia’s Senate is to investigate BP‘s proposal to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight, off the southern coast, amid concerns that it may damage the marine environment.

This would be the company’s second proposal to drill for oil in the region.

BP’s first proposal was rejected by Australia’s offshore oil and gas authority NOPSEMA in November 2015 due to inadequacies in its plans.

The authority previously said that the company requires a comprehensive risk assessment and an oil pollution emergency plan.

Wilderness Society national director Lyndon Schneiders said: "The inquiry presents a much-needed opportunity to properly scrutinise the environmental, economic and social impacts of BP’s plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight, especially with the company in such a precarious financial situation.

"The senate now has to do the work of the Federal Environment Department after the approvals process was given to NOPSEMA."

"The Great Australian Bight should not be put at risk for the sake of corporations with terrible environmental track records chasing a profit."

Based on an independent modelling, which was released in 2015, it was found that an oil spill in the Great Australian Bight from a deepsea well blowout would harm fisheries, marine life and tourism.

The model shows that an oil spill may lead to the closure of fisheries in the Bight, Bass Strait and even the Tasman Sea.

Greens senator for South Australia Robert Simms said: "This inquiry, initiated by myself and fellow South Australian senator Nick Xenophon, is a necessary step in ensuring that we get broad community input into BP’s proposed actions.

"The Great Australian Bight should not be put at risk for the sake of corporations with terrible environmental track records chasing a profit."

BP is responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster that took place in 2010 and spilled 800 million litres of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.


Image: The coastline of the Great Australian Bight, showing the marine park. Photo: courtesy of Nachoman-au.