NOPSEMA still assessing BP's Great Australian Bight drilling plan

Australia's National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) has advised BP Developments Australia Pty Ltd. (BP) that it needs additional time to reach an initial decision on BP's proposal to undertake exploration drilling in the Great Australian Bight.

On Oct. 1, 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 CEO 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.”

Smith added, “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.”

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