Disastrous plans from BP, Statoil, and Chevron to drill for oil in the incredibly hostile Great Australian Bight will soon be under the spotlight, with the Australian Senate instigating an inquiry into the AU$1 billion project.
Rejected once already by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environment Management Authority (NOPSEMA), BP wants to sink an exploratory well in water 2,200 metres deep, to test the waters before drilling over an area covering depths of 1000 to 2,500 metres.
By comparison, its infamous Deepwater Horizon well clocked in at 1,500 metres, and was located in an area where immense seas like those in the Bight are but bad dreams for salty oilers. Despite extreme challenges to its operation and dire risks for the Southern coast of Australia, BP’s fevered dreams of an oil-powered future in an increasingly carbon-constrained world have seen it drop $US755 million on a shiny new rig, as it estimates it can pull up to nine billion barrels from its two prospects alone.
This much oil roughly equates to 2.85 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions, making BP’s project alone equal to four-times Australia’s total yearly carbon (0.65 gigatonnes in 2012), and a carbon bomb that would help blow the world’s slimming chances of remaining below 2DegC of average global warming.
- BP is risking another Deepwater Horizon, and doing it in one of the most remote, inhospitable, and pristine parts of the world. There is no established offshore oil and gas industry in South Australia, and BP’s oil well containment response system would be based in Houston, giving it an estimated disaster response time of 32 to 157 days. Plus, it would be operating in a far more inhospitable ocean than the Gulf of Mexico, where the company took 87 days to cap Deepwater Horizon. The only logical conclusion the senate can come to is that drilling in the Australian bight will create unacceptable risks to Australian marine reserves, threaten South Australia’s AU$1 billion coastal tourism and AU$442 million fishing industries.
- Bight oil is a carbon bomb that will blow any chance of the world remaining below 2DegC of warming. The message of the Paris Agreement was loud and clear: the day of fossil fuels is over, and investments in new fossil infrastructure is incompatible with a healthy climate. BP’s project in the Great Australian Bight is a carbon bomb larger than four times Australia’s annual CO2 emissions, and it has no place in a world trying to rapidly and justly transition to clean energy and clean economies.
- BP doesn’t need a Bight oil plan, it needs a Plan B for a just transition to clean energy. BP is a member of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, “an industry-driven initiative which aims to catalyse practical action on climate change in focus areas such as the role of natural gas, carbon reduction instruments and tools, and long-term energy solutions”, but it is dropping billions on white elephant hunts at a time when it is losing billions in profits and dropping thousands of workers. This demonstrates that it has no interest in being part of climate solutions, only greenwash.