Time to End Oil and Gas Uncertainty in the Great Australian Bight

12 May 2020

Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick will today move amendments to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Storage Act 2006 to prevent oil and gas companies being granted perpetual extensions to exploration licences in the Great Australian Bight.

"It’s time to end uncertainly for South Australia’s fishing and tourism industry," said Senator Patrick. "For decades they have had to operate in the shadows of exploration, including seismic testing, and the prospects of drilling in the Great Australian Bight. The uncertainty has stifled investment."

Offshore oil and gas exploration of the Great Australian Bight has occurred in three major phases—the late 1960s and early 1970s, the early 1990s, and 2000 through to current exploration efforts. More than 40 oil and gas exploration permits have been granted in the Great Australian Bight, and 13 exploration wells were drilled between 1972 and 2003. Since then, only seismic surveys have been conducted.

"We’ve seen BP come and go, Chevron come and go, Karoon Gas come and go and Equinor come and go. These large companies all pulled out because, quite simply, drilling for oil in the Bight is not economically viable," said Senator Patrick. "Meanwhile the presence of the remaining oil companies and the ongoing prospect of drilling has adversely affected investment in the fishing and tourism industry. The fishing industry on the Eyre Peninsula alone is worth $500M per annum, with $400M in exports, while the EP tourism industry is worth more than $300M. Combined they directly and indirectly employ more than 5000 South Australians."

"I will move an amendment to the bill in the Senate today that will limit exploration leases in the Great Australian Bight to 10 years.”

Bight Petroleum, as an example, has sought and received 6 exploration permit extensions since 2011 for each of its permits – EPP 41 and 42. The permit areas are very close to both Port Lincoln and Kangaroo Island. 

"The continued uncertainty for our fishing and tourism industries must end."

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