BP map 'pinpoints proposed drilling sites'
By Daniel Keane
The Wilderness Society has released a map of the Great Australian Bight it says pinpoints the spots where BP wants to drill as part of its exploration plans.
The map is based on one obtained by the conservation group from the petroleum giant and shows two sites, Stromlo and Whinham, both of which fall within the Great Australian Bight Marine Park.
The Wilderness Society’s SA director Peter Owen said while BP’s map was “very low resolution” and “hard to read”, it was the first time precise locations had been made public.
BP map locating proposed drilling sites in the Great Australian Bight. (Supplied: Wilderness Society)
He said both sites occur within what is known as the Bight’s benthic protection zone, which is home to a rich diversity of sea floor creatures.
“There couldn’t be a more inappropriate place to be proposing to drill than this,” he said.
“We’ve been asking for this information for years now and they’ve been hesitant to put anything public.
“When we’ve overlaid the marine park boundaries [on BP’s map] it would appear that they’re proposing to drill right in the middle of the marine park.”
BP wants to drill four exploration wells up to 2.5 kilometres deep off South Australia’s west coast, about 400 kilometres west of Port Lincoln.
In a document accompanying its map, the company said: “The titleholders can now simplify the plan and reduce uncertainty by seeking permission only for the first two wells (marked as Stromlo and Whinham in the chart).
“In BP’s view this does not introduce any new activities, or new or different risks or impacts to the environment.”
Strong business case for drilling: APPEA
Sea Shepherd’s vessel the Steve Irwin will stop over in Victor Harbor early Sunday before heading to the Great Australian Bight to protest against the proposed drilling.
The flagship environmental vessel will moor off Granite Island about 7:00am and opponents of the drilling plan, including Nick Xenophon Team MP Rebekha Sharkie, will hold a protest in Victor Harbor.
“A disaster out here would potentially destroy one of the world’s great wilderness areas,” Mr Owen said.
“It would seriously damage southern Australia’s tourism industry, our fishing industry, our coastal way of life. We simply just can’t be taking these types of risks.”
In 2010, 11 people died when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank off the coast of Louisiana with about 4.9 million barrels of oil escaping.
But the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) said the local industry had a strong environmental track record.
It said local businesses stood to gain substantially if drilling was approved.
“Businesses are acutely aware of the importance of petroleum development to future growth,” APPEA director Matthew Doman said.
“The Ceduna Airport is being upgraded to handle helicopter flights and Port Adelaide is being developed to include a dedicated oil and gas marine supply base.”