BP Bight proposal rejected for second time

Article by Staff Writer

AN OIL exploration proposal submitted by BP Global to conduct drilling in the Great Australian Bight off the coast of South Australia (SA) has been rejected by regulators for the second time.

The original proposal was rejected in November 2015 by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environment Management Authority (NOPSEMA), for not having met environmental safety requirements. BP submitted a second proposal in February, which prompted the SA senate to open an inquiry into the proposal.

NOPSEMA has cited the same reasons for refusing the second proposal, but has not provided the exact details of the plan, nor what has changed from the first proposal. The regulator said it traditionally accepts two opportunities to modify plans, but is not generally restricted to this rule. NOPSEMA has given BP until 15 July to resubmit its proposal.

Australian senators have called for BP to abandon its plan to drill in the Bight, claiming a potential oil spill could have devastating effects on the local environment.

Robert Simms, SA senator for the Greens party, said: “We cannot risk a catastrophic oil spill in the Bight, a pristine environment which is home to endangered and threatened species like the southern right whale and Australian sea lion. Any major spill would also decimate our coastal tourism and fishing industries which contribute 9,000 sustainable jobs and almost A$1.5bn [US$1.08bn] to the South Australian economy.”

The senate inquiry established by Simms and fellow senator Nick Xenophon in February was postponed due to local elections.

Local environmental groups are also opposed to BP’s plan to drill in the Bight.

Lyndon Schneiders, national director of the Wilderness Society of SA, said: “BP should just give up and ditch its plans for the Bight before it wastes any more of its shareholders’ money on an investment that the world can’t use and will become a stranded asset.”

A spokesperson for BP said that although the decision meant BP’s application was not to NOPSEMA’s requirements for approval, it was not a call to desist.

“NOPSEMA has provided BP with a further ‘opportunity to modify and resubmit’ its environment plan, which is not a rejection but another step in the normal, iterative process with this regulator.”

Article by Staff Writer

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