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Chevron abandons drilling plans in the Bight

Image taken from Pixabay

Image taken from Pixabay

Jack Baker, ECU Reporter

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Energy giant, Chevron, has abandoned its $400 Million plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight.

A year after fellow multinational oil player British Petroleum (BP) gave up its ambitions for drilling in South Australia’s Bight; Chevron announced that due to low oil prices, the project could not compete for capital in its global portfolio.

Chevron Australia Managing Director Nigel Hearne said: “We appreciate the strong support from governments, regulators and the local community for our plans to explore for hydrocarbons offshore South Australia.

“We are confident the Great Australian Bight can be developed safely and responsibly and we will work closely with the interested stakeholders to help realise its potential.”

While the company said that it was a commercial decision and not due to government policy, regulatory, community or environmental concerns, the project had been met with opposition from environmental groups and sections of the South Australian Government.

The Wilderness Society said in a media release that the project was “all risk and no reward,” and gave reasoning for protecting the deep waters of the Bight.

“There’s a multitude of reasons to protect the Bight. Its waters contain even more endemic marine diversity than the Great Barrier Reef, and over 36 species of whales and dolphins call the region home.

“The protected southern right whale finds sanctuary in its calm coves to raise their calves, and endangered Australian sea-lions thrive in this undisturbed ecosystem,” the statement read.

The South Australian Greens and Senator Nick Xenophon opposed the plans. Wilderness Society South Australia Director Peter Owen was critical of the major parties and said in May: “The Greens and South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon have already taken a stand for their communities by saying no to oil and gas drilling in the Great Australian Bight in the Australian Senate inquiry’s report handed down this month.

“The Liberal and Labor parties, however, seem more concerned about the interests of the oil and gas industry rather than the communities they are elected to represent.

“Both major parties seem more interested in imaginary oil and gas industry jobs than the 10,000 real fishing and tourism jobs in South Australia’s coastal regions that would be threatened by an oil spill,” Mr Owen said.

Chevron had not yet submitted an environment plan to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), but BP’s submissions were notably rejected thrice by NOPSEMA before drilling plans were halted.

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) said in a release that the decision was disappointing and that success in the Bight would ease Australia’s reliance on imported oil and deliver the state much-needed new investment and jobs.

APPEA’s South Australia Director Matthew Doman said that any industry activity in the Bight would only proceed under the highest environmental standards, and only after wide community consultation and close scrutiny by NOPSEMA.

Plans to drill for oil in the bight remain underway. While Chevron and BP have withdrawn, Norwegian multinational Statoil received BP’s drilling licenses and plans to drill an exploration well by the end of 2019.

 

 

 

 

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Quality journalism by ECU students
Chevron abandons drilling plans in the Bight