PERTH, Australia – Australia’s National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) has approved BP’s request for more time to revise its environment plan for exploration drilling in the Great Australian Bight.
The modified plan is now expected to be resubmitted by Aug. 31, at which point NOPSEMA will resume its assessment.
The plan, the first ever received for the Great Australian Bight, was originally submitted in October 2015. In November, NOPSEMA asked BP to modify the plan after deciding that “it was not satisfied” the plan 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 said.
BP revised and resubmitted the plan in March, and an Australian senate inquiry was held in April. The Authority said in May that it “was not reasonably satisfied” and gave BP the opportunity to modify and resubmit the plan once again.
According to NOPSEMA, the exact well locations are yet to be determined, however, they will be drilled within a defined so-called “drilling area.” The project is scheduled to commence in the summer of 2016-2017, with each well taking between 45 and 170 days to drill.
The drilling area is the previously acquired Ceduna 3D seismic survey area, which covers 12,100 sq km (4,672 sq mi) across exploration permit for petroleum (EPP) EPP 37, EPP 38, EPP 39, and EPP 40. BP and Statoil are the registered titleholders of EPPs 37, 38, 39, and 40, with BP being the operator.
The wells will be drilled using a dynamically positioned semisubmersible mobile offshore drilling unit.
NOPSEMA said the back-and-forth was part of the process and noted that it “will typically provide two opportunities to modify and resubmit, but is not restricted to providing only two opportunities.”
Since NOPSEMA was established on Jan. 1, 2012, it said it has refused 4% of all environment plans submitted for assessment.
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