Plans to open up marine reserve for drilling must be scrapped

Plans to open up marine reserve for drilling must be scrapped

Federal Member Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has called on the Federal Government to scrap proposed plans to open up parts of a Commonwealth Marine Reserve in the Great Australian Bight for oil and gas exploration.

The area, identified as S18-1, is one of 21 put forward under the Government’s 2018 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release. Public consultation on the nominated sites closed yesterday.

“My electorate and the people of South Australia who value the pristine marine environment of the Bight would be horrified to know that another area could be quietly opened up for drilling under this acreage release,” Rebekha said.

“This area is not just an extension of existing exploration titles.

“This proposed site actually overlaps a marine park already recognised by scientists for its high biodiversity value.

“The Nick Xenophon Team understands that Australia’s large oil and gas reserves are national economic resources, and our intention is not to stop safe legitimate drilling activity.

“That said, we also recognise that there are areas of high conservation value that need protection and that there are areas where it is unsafe to drill without the risk of a catastrophe.

“NXT have been extremely vocal in our opposition to deep-sea oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight, where independent modelling from the Wilderness Society has indicated that a major oil spill could spread across our coasts to as far as the north coast of Tasmania and to Esperance in the west.

“BP's own modelling is worse, showing a 94 per cent likelihood of a spill hitting Kangaroo Island within 15 days.

“This is of particular concern to the coastal communities of Mayo.”

More information about the acreage release is available here.