Greenpeace: BP’s Bight Plan full of holes

Following yet another delay by the Australian authorities to give approval for BP’s environmental plan for drilling in the Great Australian Bight, Greenpeace says this is proof that BP’s plan is full of holes and must not be approved.

To remind, National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) on Wednesday requested further information from BP regarding the oil company’s plan for drilling of the Stromlo-1 and Whinham-1 exploration wells in the Great Australian Bight, offshore Southern Australia.

NOPSEMA had already delayed making a final decision when on September 16 it said it would move the decision date to September 29. The decision had been expected on September 19.

However, following BP’s recent release of oil spill scenario for the project, Guardian’s report on faulty equipment on the drilling rig planned for the project, and the public pressure that ensued, NOPSEMA does not want to rush it.

Also worth noting, NOPSEMA had rejected BP’s original plan to drill four wells in the area, after which BP submitted a new proposal, with two planned wells. Commenting on NOPSEMA’s latest delay, Greenpeace Asia Pacific said the latest knockback to BP’s plans to drill in the Great Australian Bight signals the company’s „project is full of holes and too dangerous to be approved”.

“BP have again failed to gain approval to drill – this third strike should see them out for good,” said Greenpeace Oceans campaigner Nathaniel Pelle.

“BP still can’t show they can deal effectively with an oil spill in the Great Australian Bight. In their half-baked environment plan overview, BP themselves say they’d rather save time and money, than bring essential safety equipment to Australia.

“They admit it could take five weeks to stop a spill, by which time much of the Bight’s unique environment would be wrecked. It happened in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, and it could happen here. It’s time for BP to take the hint. Australia’s own oil and gas regulator can’t greenlight the project because it’s just too risky. “To go ahead with oil exploration in a whale sanctuary without the best oil spill safety equipment on hand would be reckless and irresponsible. It’s time to end this charade,” said Pelle.

NOPSEMA has given BP until October 28 to provide the additional info required, after which it will resume the assessment. BP can request an extension of this timeframe if required, NOPSEMA added.

BP, as operator of the Great Australian Bight Exploration Drilling Programme, proposes to drill the first two wells in that program. The wells are Stromlo-1 and Whinham-1 respectively and, if approved, will be drilled using the Ocean GreatWhite semi-submersible drilling rig.

Stromlo-1 is located approximately 600 kilometers west of Port Lincoln and 400km southwest of Ceduna, in a water depth of approximately 2250 meters. Whinham-1 is located approximately 600 kilometers west of Port Lincoln and 350 kilometers southwest of Ceduna, in a water depth of approximately 1150 meters.

The drilling program is planned to start from Q4 2016 to Q1 2017. It is anticipated that each well will take approximately 75 days to drill. In the event of any technical or equipment delays the duration may be greater, so the assessment for each of the wells has allowed for up to 150 days.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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