Major international energy company Chevron has announced it has joined BP in abandoning plans to drill in the Great Australian Bight on South Australia’s west coast.
It said while the Bight had massive potential, low oil prices had forced it to concentrate on other projects.
Chevron said the decision to ditch its $400 million plans had nothing to do with government policy, regulatory, community or environmental concerns.
In October last year BP announced it would not proceed with exploration drilling in the Bight.
A month after BP’s announcement, Chevron reaffirmed its plan to drill four exploration wells there.
At the time, Chevron Australia’s general manager of exploration David Moffat said he believed oil prices would rebound.
He also expressed confidence in Chevron’s ability to drill without mishap.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said there were still companies looking to drill in the Bight and those opposed to any development needed to stay vigilant.
“One of the big companies of course still left on the table is Statoil from Norway,” Senator Hanson-Young said.
“Over the next week I’ll be reaching out to the Norwegian ambassador and the Norwegian Government to say ‘look, it’s just not worth it, leave our Great Australian Bight alone’.”
Peter Owen from the Wilderness Society also urged other companies looking at the Bight to abandon their plans.
“I don’t think the Great Australian Bight is an appropriate place to be trying to turn into an oil field,” he said.
“It’s very deep water, it’s very rough water, it’s extremely remote, it’s also one of the most significant whale nurseries on the planet.”
Energy investment ‘cannot be taken for granted’
Chevron’s decision has disappointed the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.
The association’s director Matthew Doman said success in the Bight would ease Australia’s reliance on imported oil and deliver much-needed new investment and jobs to South Australia.
“Chevron has made clear its view that the resource potential of the Great Australian Bight remains significant, but their decision is a reminder that much-needed investment in developing Australia’s energy resources cannot be taken for granted,” Mr Doman said.
“While several other companies continue to develop exploration plans for the Bight, the international environment for the oil and gas industry is challenging.”