Australia: NOPSEMA further delays decision on BP’s Bight drilling plan

Australian oil and gas safety body NOPSEMA on Wednesday requested further information from BP Developments Australia relating to the company’s environment plan for drilling of the Stromlo-1 and Whinham-1 exploration wells in the Great Australian Bight, off Australia. 

After BP’s first plan for drilling four exploration wells in the Great Australian Bight was rejected by the safety body, the oil company submitted a second environment plan in August this year.

The wells proposed in the second submission are two of the four wells that were originally proposed in the first Great Australian Bight Exploration Drilling Program environment plan. The Stromlo-1 and Whinham-1 wells will be drilled using the world’s largest semi-submersible drilling rig, the Ocean Greatwhite.

NOPSEMA was expected to come back with a decision about this plan by September 19. However, earlier in September, the decision had been postponed with a plan to deliver the next assessment decision for the plan by September 29.

On Wednesday, September 28, the offshore regulator said that the requested information is expected to be provided by October 28, 2016, at which time NOPSEMA will restart the assessment. BP can request an extension of this time frame if required.

NOPSEMA noted it may request further information from a titleholder (the company proposing the activity) on any matter in an environment plan to inform its assessment of whether the plan does or does not meet the criteria for acceptance under the Environment Regulations. Once NOPSEMA has received the requested information it will become a part of the environment plan, the safety agency explained.

If a titleholder is able to demonstrate through their environment plan that they meet the criteria for acceptance then NOPSEMA must accept the plan. However, following a reasonable opportunity to modify and resubmit their environment plan, if a titleholder is unable to meet the criteria for acceptance NOPSEMA must refuse to accept the plan, the safety body further said.

BP has hit several stumbling blocks while trying to develop a plan to drill in the Great Australian Bight including objections by the Australian Green Party and the environmental organization Greenpeace who called for the national regulators to dismiss the company’s application following concerns that the rig selected for the project might have faulty equipment.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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