oil drilling

Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil has taken over two exploration permits from BP and plans to begin drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight by late next year.

Statoil and BP have signed a swap agreement covering four offshore petroleum titles. Under the deal Statoil transferred its 30% equity in two of its permits to BP and exited the licences. In return, BP has given its 70% equity in two other permits to Statoil and relinquished those licences.

BP announced on October 11 that it has abandoned plans for a $1.4 billion program to explore for oil in the Great Australian Bight, off South Australia.

The British petroleum giant said the decision, which delighted environmental groups, was made because the project was not economically viable. It said it would instead focus on projects it could exploit in the short-to-medium term.

The South Australian government has finally admitted that oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight is a risk, with two government reports highlighting the risks of spills and shipping and threats to marine life.

The Department for Planning, Transport and Infrastructure’s South Australian Marine Spill Contingency Action Plan admits: “The intended drilling activities increases both the South Australian and West Australian risk profile with respect to possible spills from the rig itself as well as an increase in shipping movements to and from the rig.”

The Senate will shine a much-needed spotlight on BP’s plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight after it voted for an inquiry into the matter. The inquiry will report back by May 12.

The Senate’s Environment and Communications References Committee will look into the potential environmental, social and economic impacts of BP’s planned exploratory oil drilling project and any future oil or gas production in the Great Australian Bight.

Protesters hold a banner opposing BP oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight, in St Kilda beach on May 16. Photo: Chris Peterson

About 100 people rallied at Glenelg in Adelaide to protest against plans by oil company British Petroleum to explore for oil in the Great Australian Bight.

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