BP’s controversial plan to drill in one of Australia’s unique ecosystems hit another snag this week.
BP is hoping to drill in the Great Australian Bight, a stretch of coastline in Australia’s south that is home to whales, sea lions and other wildlife. But Australian regulators delayed the British oil giant’s efforts once again, ruling this week that BP needs to provide more information on its oil spill response plan before it is allowed to move forward.
The move could be a small delay, however. It is not seen as a major setback and does not necessarily mean that Australian regulators are any closer to approving or rejecting the drilling plan. BP has a month to submit more information, the third time that regulators have requested a more detailed plan.
For BP, the Great Australian Bight represents one of the last major potential sources of unexplored oil in the world. BP says the geology could be similar to the Mississippi Delta, where the industry has been producing for years. BP has a slick video on its website trumpeting the opportunity in the Great Australian Bight.
“This is really exciting. This is a frontier basin, and by that we mean it isn’t a discovered basin like the Northwest Shelf of Australia where there’s lots of operators and lots of wells and lots of discoveries and production being made,” Bryan Ritchie, VP of BP’s Exploration Asia Pacific unit, said in the company’s promotional video. “This is…had a couple of wells in the basin and we don’t think those wells went deep enough to test the potential of this basin.”
But environmental groups say that any spill response plan would be inadequate, and that no drilling should be allowed, especially given BP’s track record. “The risks posed by this project to the environment and the economy of coastal communities across southern Australia are simply too great,” Peter Owen, the director of the Wilderness Society in South Australia, said in a statement. “The time has come for this project to be terminated once and for all,” he said.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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