Stab Magazine | The Bad Kind Of Oil

The Bad Kind Of Oil

British Petroleum wants to risk thousands of clicks of wave-rich Oz coastline? No, thanks.

news // Jun 16, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

It’s relentless, it’s destructive and it’s coming soon to a coastline near you! Greed-driven logic has once again put some of our best playgrounds in danger. This time, along Australia’s extensive southern coastline, where a risky plan by BP to sink an oil and gas drill in one of the world’s most volatile oceans is threatening thousands of kilometres of amazing waves and wildlife.

“People think it’s not gonna happen until it does, but when it does happen it’s such a devastating thing it will take decades to recover,” Brinkley Davies, a well-known local surfer and Marine Biologist from Port Lincoln in the Great Australian Bight, tells Stab.

Great Australian Bight

Yes, the Bight is quite special.

Should BP’s drill go pear, as one did so memorably in 2010 when they caused the world’s biggest oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (spewing 800 million litres of oil into the ocean), they will destroy dozens of world class waves – not to mention one of the most unique and fragile coastlines in the world.

“Eighty five percent of the species found in the Great Australian Bight are found nowhere else in the world,” says Brinkley. “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 was to be an oil spill it’s pretty common sense that it wouldn’t just destroy one of those things, it would destroy everything.”


Yeah, there’s waves down here. Craig Anderson adores this part of the world. Photo: @sa_rips

The company’s original proposal was flatly rejected on two occasions by Australia’s offshore oil and gas regulator, NOPSEMA (they’re not inclined to reveal their reasons for why). Despite this, a BP spokesperson has said the company will continue the pursuit “to modify and resubmit its environment plan” in the hope of commencing its operations in the Bight in late 2016. Australian politician, Greens senator Robert Simms, who established a senate inquiry into BP’s plans with independent Senator Nick Xenophon, has called on BP to abandon drilling.

“It’s clear BP aren’t respecting the precious Great Australian Bight environment as once again Nopsema determine that BP’s shoddy environmental plan requires modifications,” he said.

AWC 0856

It’s hard not to sound preachy but, really… this is the kinda thing that’s in danger. Photo: @sa_rips

Beyond surfing, the southern coastline of Australia is home to the nation’s largest fishing industry, with an estimated worth of $442m, and a $1b tourism trade. While sparsely populated, the vast majority of people living along the nation’s southern perimeter are dependent on the coast for their livelihoods and wellbeing. The profits generated by oil and gas multinationals tend to disappear disproportionately down the pockets of a select few, most of whom live in a world without borders that begins and ends where their political influence does. No home, no community, no accountability.

Stab surveyed dozens of residents across the bight during a recent trip. None were in favour of drilling.

“It’s a wild world down there,” Ronnie, the land owner at the Cactus surf commune, 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?”


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