Kaitlin Kavanagh, 18 April 2016

The display demonstrated the protesters’ concern about the risks of drilling in the GAB and the impact of oil spills on the pristine environment. Representatives from the GAB Alliance, the Wilderness Society and Sea Shepard were present.

A BP spokesperson said BP recognised the wide range of views on the GAB exploration and supported the opportunity for those viewpoints to be shared. The protest followed BP’s submission to the Senate inquiry on the proposed exploration, which had been received by the Senate two weeks prior.

“BP understands the importance of sharing its plans for the Great Australian Bight and is committed to engaging with the community. We expect and welcome scrutiny by regulators to ensure our work is safe and environmentally acceptable,” a spokeperson said.

The plan outlined oil and gas practices, changes introduced in response to the Deepwater Horizon accident, environmental aspects, and the potential economic benefits, specifically for Ceduna.

The Senate has also received submissions from the Ceduna District Council, and Ceduna’s Clean Bight Alliance Australia (CBAA) addressing the various community perspectives and concerns for the GAB project. The CBAA outlined in their submission the potential impact of drilling in the GAB on the marine environment, the Southern Right Whale and potential impact on agriculture, fishing and tourism.

“Our research into the impacts of drilling accidents around the world have led us to believe that the risks to marine life particularly those, which are supposed to be protected under a marine reserve system, are unacceptable,” the CBAA submission said.

The Ceduna council submission detailed the consultation process that BP undertook with the council and community, as well as their commitment to local economic development including grant funding, future economic employment opportunities for businesses and individuals and BP’s major sponsorship to the Oysterfest.

“Without BP’s commitment to Social Investment associated with the proposed GAB exploratory drilling program, it is unlikely that these community programs and activities would have been undertaken,” the council submission said.

The Senate committee will review submissions and present its findings on May 12.

Extracted in full from the West Coast Sentinel.