Stab Magazine | BP Drops Their Plans To Drill In The Great Australian Bight

BP Drops Their Plans To Drill In The Great Australian Bight

Facing a huge public and political backlash the oil giant is sent packing. 

news // Oct 14, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

In what is a major win for surfers, environmentalists and common sense, British Petroleum (BP) has dropped their plans to drill for oil in one of the world’s most rugged and untouched stretches of coast, the Great Australian Bight, off Australia’s southern coast. 

The decision comes on the back of a large public and political backlash, and three separate rejections of BP’s proposals by the Australian regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA). 

According to BP, the area could be as rich with oil as the Gulf of Mexico, currently home to more than 4,000 oil rigs. So confident were they of getting the green light, they had already spent millions on preparing a high-tech oil rig in Singapore. 


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Craig Ando on a wave that just may have been saved…for now. Photo: @sa_rips


A spokesperson from BP said of their decision: “(This) isn’t a result of a change in our view of the prospectivity of the region, nor of the ongoing regulatory process run by the independent regulator Nopsema. It is an outcome of our strategy and the relative competitiveness of this project in our portfolio.” 

In the event of an oil spill in the Bight, worst-case scenarios projected up to 4,000 kilometres of coastline would be affected; reaching all the way to Victoria with a 41 percent chance of oil making it to the NSW coastline on Australia’s east coast. 


ResizedImageWzY1MCw0MzFd Great Australian Bight

The Bight is quite mesmerising.


In a cosmic piece of timing the Great Australian Bight was lashed by one of the most violent storms in living memory last month. Ten-meter waves, multiple tornadoes and 80,000 lightning strikes were responsible for a state-wide blackout in South Australia. 

When Stab contacted residents across the region earlier his year about the plans, they had warned of exactly this

“It’s a wild world down there,” Ronnie, the land owner at the Cactus surf commune in South Australia, told Stab. “The wildest. When things go wrong they’re gonna ruin the whole show. Everything. The seals, the dolphins, the Bight, the surf, the fishing, everything. And for what? So BP can make some money. Where’s BP from? Which country do they belong to? Where’s that money going?”

In 2010 BP was responsible for the world’s largest oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (spewing 800 million litres of oil into the ocean). A disaster in the Bight would not only have destroyed dozens of world class waves and one of the most unique and fragile coastlines in the world, but also the most lucrative fishing industry in Australia. 


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Miss Brinkley Davies, beautiful, passionate, intelligent and not afraid to stand up for her beliefs. Isn’t she wonderful? 


“Eighty-five percent of the species found in the Great Australian Bight are found nowhere else in the world,” says Brinkley Davies, a well-known local surfer and Marine Biologist from Port Lincoln in the Great Australian Bight. “It’s a birthing ground for southern wright whales, we have a giant population of Australian sea lions, we have Great White Sharks, we have amazing amounts of fish. If there were to be an oil spill it’s pretty common sense that it wouldn’t just destroy one of those things, it would destroy everything.” 

The area is not in the clear yet with several other companies including Chevron, Santos and Karoon, still holding exploration licenses in the region. 


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