Great Australian Bight exploration

The race is on to uncover the potential oil and gas reserves in the Great Australian Bight.

It's a future the sector promises could create thousands of local jobs and a massive boost for the South Australian economy.

The Department for State Development confirmed there are new surveys in the pipeline by some big explorers to assess that potential.

One such company is oil giant BP, which, subject to approval and in conjunction with Statoil, plans to drill four deepwater exploration wells from early 2016.

A spokesperson said preparation for the project was well underway, which includes environmental planning.

Jason Kuchel, from the SA Chamber of Mines and Energy, said the Bight was one of the most prospective, unexplored offshore basins in the world.

"There certainly has been exploration over the last 20 years but generally that's been abandoned purely because of the expected difficulties in bringing it to production.

"But times have changed, the technology is now there and available to both find and also extract the oil and gas," he said.

"Now it's considered quite an exciting possibility."

Mr Kuchel said there were strict regulations to keep check on the environment as the exploration took place.

However, the Wilderness Society SA was worried what the developments might mean for the region, which is known as a whale sanctuary.

Director Peter Owens said there had been regulation failure in other parts of the world and it could happen in Australia.

"Many years ago, the Great Australian Bight marine sanctuary was declared for southern right whales and their calves, obviously recognising the importance of this area for these animals.

"I don't believe that that recognition is being made by the oil industry here at all," he said.

"So we are quite seriously concerned about what is being proposed here."

Adapted from press release by Joe Green

Published on 19/01/2015

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