Great Australian Bight seismic surveys deferred to 2020

The company planning to conduct seismic surveys in the Great Australian Bight off the Eyre Peninsula has announced the surveys have been deferred to next year.

PGS Australia had planned to conduct a multi-client three dimensional and a multi-client two dimensional marine seismic survey in an area about 30,100 square kilometres, 51 kilometres from Cape Carnot between September and November this year.

However a PGS Australia spokesperson confirmed the surveys had been deferred until 2020 due to funding and vessel availability.

Despite this deferment the company is confident the surveys will be conducted in 2020.

This news has been welcomed by the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association, which had expressed concerns about the effect the surveys would have on tuna migration.

Association research scientist Kirsten Rough said it had been involved in this particular survey for the past three years and was involved in consultation.

She said there was a set time that the surveys could be done so this deferment meant that surveys could possibly affect just one season instead of two.

"With this particular survey the tuna industry does have significant concerns on how it will affect operations," she said.

"(Surveys) only going to be in one season is a benefit because that limits impacts to one year rather than two.

"We still have concerns over the time and scale of these sort of activities in the Bight."

The news has also been welcomed by Greenpeace but the environmental organisation has warned the only way to ensure the long-term health of the Bight is for every drilling license within the area to be cancelled.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner Nathaniel Pelle said as long as Equinor continued to pursue oil drilling in the Bight it would still be in danger.

"The whales, fishing ports and tourist towns of the Bight will never be fully safe as long as Equinor pursues its reckless plans," he said.

However Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association director external affairs Matthew Doman said it was important to remember this activity was approved by the independent regulator (NOPSEMA) subject to strict conditions to ensure the environment and marine life were protected.

"The oil and gas industry is proud of our long track record conducting this activity in a safe and sustainable manner with minimal impact on the fishing industry and other users of the marine environment," he said.

"We believe the prospect of significant commercial oil development in the Great Australian Bight will bring tremendous benefits to South Australia, including to the coastal communities that host those activities and other industries that operate alongside ours."