Friends of the Earth Australia

Plans advance for drilling off the NSW Central Coast

The massive fossil oil and methane gas field stretching from offshore Sydney to Newcastle looks set to be exploited after all, with reports that the gas industry has made “good progress” in applying for test drilling.

The PEP11 gas field had a tumultuous start, when former Prime Minister Scott Morrison banned its development under the powers given to him by one of his dodgy extra ministries.

But in a Federal Court ruling in February this year, which was supported by the current government, a judge ruled that: “a fair-minded observer would have reasonably apprehended that the former Prime Minister of Australia the Hon Scott Morrison MP, as a member of the Joint Authority, did not bring a fair mind to determine Asset Energy’s application”.

As a result, the Advent and Bounty Oil and Gas Company, which is 36% owned by BHP, has been talking to the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA), asking them if they can resume test drilling.

Reports say they have made good progress with the regulator.

According to reports supported by BHP, the company has continued to undertake environmental assessments and has awarded contracts for drilling infrastructure.

Friends of the Earth Offshore Fossil Gas Campaigner, Jeff Waters, said PEP11 was an environmental disaster waiting to happen on many levels.

“It is disturbing to think that, in spite of all of the evidence of a climate catastrophe, Australians are willing to unlock yet another vast fossil fuel reserve,” Jeff Waters said.

“The Federal Government is clearly allowing PEP11 to quietly proceed.”

“Allowing this to go ahead will simply cancel out every new carbon initiative the government is implementing,” he said.

“Then there is the seismic blasting that will need to take place for the development of the field — repetitive blasts of noise as loud as an atomic bomb — which will kill or disorient sea life and render whales and dolphins deaf.”

“What will Migaloo think when the annual whale migration is disturbed?”

Waters also said that any oil spill would result in the destruction of a huge section of the NSW coastline.

“Beaches from Port Macquarie to Port Kembla could be impacted, and it’s hard to remove oil from the golden sands of Bondi or Manly Beach,” he said.

Key Facts:

– BHP says it is making good progress with the regulator

– Test drilling application being considered

– Court case overturned PEP11 ban

/Public Release.