BP’s application to drill for oil deep in the Great Australian Bight has been rejected for the second time by the offshore oil and gas regulator, NOPSEMA.
The decision implies the regulator found BP’s plans did not meet its regulatory requirements, although the reasons have been kept secret.
“We have allowed sufficient time in our programme schedule for this regulatory process and continue to work toward commencing exploration drilling in late 2016, subject to the acceptance of our environment plan”, a spokeswoman for BP said.
BP Drilling Plans Rejected By Australia
The modified plan is expected to be resubmitted by 15 July, at which time NOPSEMA will recommence the assessment.
The agency explained that it typically provides two opportunities for titleholders to modify and resubmit their proposals, “but it is not restricted to providing only two opportunities”.
This was already BP’s second chance to revise its plans and resubmit after an unfavourable decision by the regulator in November 2015.
Unclear Plan For Oil Leak
Conservationists are concerned about BP’s unclear model for a potential oil leak in the environmentally protected area, while a model commissioned by the Wilderness Society suggests it would affect most of the southern coast of Australia.
The Greens senator for South Australia, Robert Simms, also called on BP to give up its plans. “We cannot risk a catastrophic oil spill in the Bight”, he said.
Meanwhile, a BP spokeswoman said the regulator’s decision does not represent a rejection, but rather “an opportunity to modify and resubmit its environmental plan” which she sees as “another step in the normal, iterative process with this regulator”.
“If BP is allowed to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight, it’s not a question of if there will be an oil spill but when, and the Great Australian Bight is not worth the risk”, Sea Shepherd Australia’s managing director, Jeff Hansen, said.