Chevron keeps Bight plans
Chevron will still drill four exploration wells in the Great Australian Bight, but oil giant BP has withdrawn from exploration of the region.
Chevron Australia's general manager of exploration David Moffat has told a Senate committee that company maintains its plan to drill in 2017 or 2018, believing global oil prices would rebound.
Dr Moffat said Chevron had the ability to drill without mishap.
“Since beginning deep-water drilling in Australia, we've drilled more than 80 wells off Western Australia without a single loss-of-control incident,’ he said.
“That's 80 wells we've drilled successfully, safely and with no impact on the environment.”
But Chevron has only just started modelling the impacts of potential spills.
“[The spill forecasting] has started but it is nowhere near complete,” Dr Moffat told senators.
Meanwhile, BP has announced it will not proceed with planned exploration drilling in the Great Australian Bight.
The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environment Management Authority (NOPSEMA) is still evaluating BP's Bight plan, saying another company might take over the drilling plan from BP.
“They've advised us that their environmental plans are still in play — they sought an extension for responding to a request for further information and that request was granted,” NOPSEMA chief Stuart Smith said.
Mr Smith said any approval NOPSEMA grants could “theoretically” be picked up by another company.
Chevron will launch public consultation with stakeholders in the first quarter of next year, and is already communicating with local governments like the council at Ceduna on SA’s west coast.
“We've been speaking with the regulator to likely begin drilling in 2018. The extension is to undertake extra seismic work, locating where best to drill the wells and begin stakeholder consultation,” Dr Moffat told the committee.
Environmental groups attended the hearing to argue against any Bight exploration.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has proposed legislation to ban all oil and gas exploration of the Bight, but there is not yet any sign of support from Labor or the Coalition in Federal Parliament.