BP withdraws environment plans for drilling in the Great Australian Bight

Media release - Published 21 December, 2016

On 20 December 2016, BP Developments Australia Pty Ltd (BP) withdrew their environment plan submissions for their Great Australian Bight Exploration Drilling Program and their Great Australian Bight Exploration Drilling Programme (Stromlo-1 and Whinham-1).

Under the regulations administered by NOPSEMA, a titleholder may notify in writing that they are withdrawing their environment plan submission/s from assessment at any time before an acceptance or refusal decision has been made.

NOPSEMA has updated the status of these assessments on the environment plan Activity Status and Summaries page of its website.

Prior to BP withdrawing their environment plan submissions, NOPSEMA had requested further information from BP on the following key areas relevant to the environmental management of the proposed drilling:

  • Potential oil spill scenarios and arrangements in place to ensure that control measures proposed were appropriate to manage potential impacts and risks in the event of an oil spill.

  • Plans for monitoring of the environment in the event of an oil spill.

  • The values and sensitivities of the receiving environment including but not limited to fisheries, Commonwealth Marine Reserves and matters protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the potential for impacts and risks to these features and how these were proposed to be managed.

  • Consultation with relevant persons and demonstration that this consultation met regulatory requirements. 

  • Management of potential impacts and risks from planned emissions and discharges from the activity.

  • The implementation strategy for the activity and demonstration that the environmental management system in place for the activity would be effective in continuously identifying and reducing environmental impacts and risks to levels that are acceptable and as low as reasonably practicable.

Further information on these key areas was not provided prior to the withdrawal notification being issued by BP, and no further assessment of the environment plan submissions will be undertaken by NOPSEMA.

NOPSEMA will also initiate the process to withdraw acceptance of the well operations management plans for the Stromlo-1 and Whinham-1 exploration wells, and will manage this process in accordance with regulatory requirements.

NOPSEMA has received several requests for information relating to BP’s environment plan and well operations management plan submissions. These requests will continue to be processed in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

- ENDS -

Contact: Nicholas Page, Manager Communications & Stakeholder Relations

t: 08 6188 8752 | m: 0476 827 635 | e: communications@nopsema.gov.au

Due to the complex and technical nature of NOPSEMA’s work, media enquiries are best addressed in writing via email to ensure a thorough response to questions can be provided.


NOPSEMA is an independent Commonwealth Statutory Authority regulating the health and safety, well integrity and environmental management of offshore petroleum industry activities in Commonwealth waters, and in coastal waters where state and territory functions have been conferred.

By law, offshore petroleum activities cannot commence before NOPSEMA has assessed and accepted detailed risk management plans documenting and demonstrating how an organisation will manage the risks to health and safety to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP) and the risks and impacts to the environment to ALARP and acceptable levels.

NOPSEMA employs a robust environmental assessment process, as well as strict compliance monitoring and enforcement programs, to ensure offshore oil and gas activities comply with Commonwealth environment law.

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  • environmental management