From Ben Wilson
Oil giant BHP has just announced the dropping of plans to explore for oil in the Great Australian Bight, abandoning its $1.4 billion federal government tender.
South Australian Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis has responded angrily. “BP today I think have done tremendous damage to their international reputation,” he said. “In Australia, you’re only as good as your word,”he added.
But BP’s intention to drill two wells in the Bight that attracted widespread opposition from a range of community groups.
The Wilderness Society said it was the right decision and called on the federal government to rescind all future drilling leases in the Bight.
‘The Great Australian Bight is an utterly inappropriate place to be turning into an oil field,’ the society’s SA director Peter Owen told AAP.
‘We can’t afford to put at risk this pristine wilderness area, home to one of the world’s biggest southern right whale nurseries, our fishing and tourism industries and our coastal way of life.’
Sea Shepherd representative Jeff Hansen, whose Steve Irwin boat campaigned in the Bight, said it is a ‘joyous day’.
In the face of the opposition, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) having first requested more time to assess BP’s environmental assessment for its plans, then rejecting the plan and asking BP to submit another one, and most recently, requested more information from the oil major.
While this is a significant development, Chevron, Murphy Oil, Santos and other companies are still eying the Bight.
Nevertheless, there are many who will be celebrating this reprieve of this important Australian coastal habitat.