BP’s Bight exploration plans fall short for second time

BP Australia’s plans for an exploration drilling program in the Great Australian Bight offshore South Australia have fallen short of the regulator’s environmental requirements for a second time.

BP originally applied to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety & Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) in 2015 for permission to drill four exploration wells in its Bight acreage.

NOPSEMA sent it back and BP resubmitted a revised plan earlier this year. The regulatory authority sent it back to BP this week and it will now need to be submitted again by July 15.

NOPSEMA said typically it will provide two opportunities to modify and resubmit drilling applications, but this is not a hard and fast rule.

The regulator added, however, that if a titleholder has been given a reasonable opportunity to modify its plan and NOPSEMA decides that it still does not meet the regulatory requirements for acceptance, then the application will be refused.

For its part, BP says it is still on track to begin its drilling program late this year. The company said it had allowed sufficient time for the regulatory process to be carried out and it will resubmit by the due date in July.

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