BP withdrawal now official

BP has formally withdrawn its application to drill in the Great Australian Bight.

Australia’s National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) said BP’s Great Australian Bight Exploration Drilling Program was withdrawn on December 20.

Prior to the oil giant withdrawing its environmental plan submissions, NOPSEMA had requested further information from BP on key areas relevant to the environmental management of the proposed drilling.

That included potential oil spill scenarios, controlling measures in the event of a spill and the management of potential impacts and risks from planned emissions and discharges from the activity.

NOPSEMA said further information on these key areas was not provided prior to the withdrawal notification being issued by BP.

BP announced its plans to leave the Great Australian Bight in October.

The company later said its submission plan would remain until the end of 2016 but it had no plans to stay, instead choosing to focus on other projects.

“The decision follows the review and refresh of BP’s upstream strategy earlier this year, which included focusing exploration on opportunities likely to create value in the near to medium term, primarily building on BP’s significant existing upstream positions,” a company statement said.

Wilderness Society South Australia director Peter Owen welcomed the news of BP’s withdrawal and said other companies should follow its lead.

“If BP with all its experience could not produce an acceptable drilling plan for the regulator NOPSEMA, the remaining companies exploring in the Bight will be wasting their shareholders’ money trying to pursue this folly,” he said.

“Chevron, Santos, Murphy and Karoon will face the same massive costs and increasing community opposition that BP experienced. 

“We call on these companies to follow BP’s lead and leave the Bight and the communities surrounding the Bight in peace.”