BP Need to Redo Plans to Drill in the Great Australian Bight
On 16 November 2015, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) made a decision that it was not satisfied that BP’s environment plan for exploration drilling in the Great Australian Bight had met regulatory requirements.
After a thorough and rigorous assessment, NOPSEMA has determined that the environment plan does not yet meet the criteria for acceptance under the environment regulations, and has advised BP of this decision.
NOPSEMA is required by law to provide BP with a reasonable opportunity to modify the environment plan. If BP chooses to resubmit a modified plan, it will then be assessed by NOPSEMA.
The environment regulations and NOPSEMA's assessment policies, clearly outline the environment plan assessment process including timeframes for resubmission and the number of times modification and/or additional information may be required.
Previously NOPSEMA has advised BP Developments Australia Pty Ltd (BP) that it would be taking additional time to reach an initial decision on a proposal to undertake exploration drilling in the Great Australian Bight.
On 1 October 2015, BP submitted an environment plan proposing exploration drilling in the Great Australian Bight to NOPSEMA for assessment.
The proposed drilling program has attracted significant community interest.
“The environmental assessment process requires BP to undertake a comprehensive risk assessment and clearly demonstrate to NOPSEMA how they will manage the environmental impacts and risks of their proposed activity in order for their environment plan to be accepted” said NOPSEMA Chief Executive Officer Stuart Smith.
“Ensuring that BP has considered and addressed stakeholder concerns is an important part of NOPSEMA’s environmental assessment process.”
“The environment plan must also include a comprehensive oil pollution emergency plan that outlines the detailed arrangements that will be in place to respond to and monitor any environmental impacts in the unlikely event of an oil spill.”
Mr Smith advised that “BP’s environment plan is currently being assessed by NOPSEMA’s dedicated environmental assessment team, which is staffed by highly qualified and experienced environmental and oil spill response experts.”
“The law requires NOPSEMA to notify the titleholder of its initial decision within 30 days of any environment plan submission.”
“That notification may involve NOPSEMA determining that additional time is required to consider the environment plan.”
“In this instance, BP has been informed that NOPSEMA will require additional time to assess the submission.”
“The law allows NOPSEMA to take as much time as required to ensure a professional, thorough and rigorous assessment” concluded Mr Smith.