Oil leak must be wake-up call for Labor State Government, Greens say inquiry needed into retired oil and gas wells

Australian Greens

The Victorian Greens are demanding an urgent inquiry into decommissioning old and retired gas infrastructure in Victoria, following recent reports of an oil leak off the Gippsland coast.

There are an unknown number of ageing, leaky gas sites off Victorian coasts, and the Greens say an urgent inquiry is needed to understand the risks to Victorians, hold fossil fuel giants accountable and develop a map for decommissioning existing plants, wells and pipelines.

There is also currently no requirement in Victoria for fossil fuel companies to pay bonds to ensure they can clean up and rehabilitate offshore gas and oil infrastructure – like they have to do with onshore mines and wells – and the Greens are calling on the Victorian Labor Government to urgently fix this problem.

According to reports over the weekend, a pipeline linking two ageing ExxonMobil oil platforms off the Gippsland coast is being investigated as the source of an oil leak in Bass Strait.

Deputy Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell, said leaky oil and gas infrastructure in our oceans was a massive problem the Victorian Labor Government was doing very little about.

She said it was outrageous the Labor Government has no idea how many oil and gas wells are leaking, or what state of disrepair they’re in, and that fossil fuel companies effectively self-regulate their clean-up, meaning infrastructure is abandoned and Victorians are left to bear the risk if things go wrong.

Ms Sandell added that without bonds to require companies to stump up costs for proper clean up and rehabilitation, offshore pipelines are a ticking time bomb, which could leak or create a disaster at any moment.

She said that Labor appeared to be asleep behind the wheel and unwilling to take the action needed to prevent future oil and gas spills and leaks, which is a huge danger to Victoria’s oceans and precious marine life.

The Greens would also like to see an overhaul of the oil and gas regulator, NOPSEMA, so they do their job properly. While many projects are in Commonwealth waters, many also exist in state waters, and the Labor State Government also has an important role to play, but they seem asleep at the wheel.

As stated by Deputy Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell MP:

“Oil spills like this will continue to happen while Labor remains asleep at the wheel, and while Labor refuses to make fossil fuel companies properly clean up their mess.

“The oil and gas industry has old pipelines, wells and platforms littered across Victoria’s oceans, and they’re a ticking time bomb.

“The Labor Government has no idea how many are leaking or about to spring a leak, which is a disaster waiting to happen. We urgently need an inquiry to find out how many leaky oil and gas pipelines and wells have been left in Victoria’s oceans.

“It’s irresponsible that the Labor State Government doesn’t even require companies pay rehabilitation bonds to properly clean up and rehabilitate their oil and gas projects in Victoria’s oceans.”

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