An application made by the massive oil company BP to drill for resources in the Great Australian Bight has been declined. The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) declined the proposal, stating that BP did not take enough environmental concerns into consideration. The oil company had planned to drill four exploration wells starting next year.
However, the oil giant is determined to overcome this latest setback. The company has said that it will adjust its application and re-submit it to NOPSEMA.
A spokesperson for BP said in a statement, “NOPSEMA is a diligent and thorough regulator and we expect to have to work hard and take the time to demonstrate that we have got our EP right.”
The state government of South Australian praised NOPSEMA for the decision, saying that the regulator was smart for taking everything into consideration. The regulator reportedly took due diligence and made a decision that was favorable to most.
However, at least one South Australian Senator will fight against the move by trying to allow for the commonwealth to make the final determination as to whether or not BP will be allowed to drill in the region.
Independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon said, “It appears to be an accident of history that NOPSEMA has no ministerial oversight for decisions as vital as letting exploration drilling into the Great Australian Bight.”
Meanwhile, members of the Green Party are undoubtedly in support of the decision handed down by NOPSEMA. Green Party Senator Robert Simms said, “BP clearly hasn’t learned from their disastrous Deepwater Horizon spill five years ago.”
According to the Wilderness Society of South Australia, allowing BP to drill for oil in the region would put marine life at serious risk. The organization has lobbied hard against BP on the matter.
The Wilderness Society director Peter Owen said, “The Great Australian Bight is a haven for whales, boasting the world’s most significant southern right whale nursery as well as many humpback, sperm, blue and beak whales.”
Last month, the Wilderness Society released a model that showed what would happen if an oil spill were to occur in the Great Australian Bight. If an event like that were to occur, all fisheries from South Australia to Victoria and Tasmania would be closed.
BP is well-known for an oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The spill caused a tremendous amount of environmental damage, and the company had to pay $18.7 billion in associated fines.