NOPTA – the National administrator of offshore oil titles – ultimately sank Asset Energy’s Petroleum Exploration Permit 11 (PEP11) bid to search for gas off the NSW coast between Manly and Newcastle.
Although New South Wales Deputy Premier Paul Toole announced that he would not proceed with on February 23, 2022, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared it “not fair” on December 16, 2021, PEP11 was still listed as a “pending request” on the NOPTA approval portalwhere it has been since its initial submission.
This meant that despite the New South Wales government declaring a ban on offshore drilling and exploration for gas, coal, oil and other fossil fuels in the waters along the coast of New South Wales on 23 February (which would also include a lack of support for proposals in adjacent Commonwealth waters), NOPTA could have effectively reversed its decision.
But today he officially died in the water.
On Monday April 4, the Independent MP for Warringah, Zali Steggalldeclared:
“Verified. Good news to start the week.
“In the final days of this Parliament – the result we’ve all been waiting for. The oil and gas drilling license off Manly in Newcastle was eventually rejected by NOPTA. PEP11 is kaput. Glad to finally see it in writing.
The NOPTA decision effectively stops any other offshore mining application along the entire NSW coast for the foreseeable future.
On December 16, 2021, the federal government first announcement that the controversial PEP11 between Manly and Newcastle would not be renewed. However, skeptics pointed out that at the same press conference Morrison also pledged $235 million in insurance to open up new gas fields in the Beetaloo, North Bowen and Galilee basins.
PEP11 covered 4,575 square kilometers of offshore marine territory from Manly to Newcastle, which a consortium of oil and gas companies hoped to exploit. The new ban also prohibits any further exploration for fossil fuels in this specific region, where large tracts containing millions of cubic feet of natural gas have been detected in underground wells.
In August 2021, Ms Steggall, an outspoken campaigner against PEP 11, presented a Bill in Parliament request its cancellation. At the time, she warned, ‘PEP11 is the Morrison government’gas recovery‘ in action. It opens the door to oil and gas platforms just offshore from our iconic beaches.
“Offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction via PEP11 would have dire consequences for NSW’s coastal businesses, communities, ecosystems and climate. Any leak of PEP11 would devastate our local economy already on its knees due to Covid-19, destroying the fishing, tourism and hospitality industries.
A coalition of Northern Beaches residents and surf organizations, including Surfrider North Beaches and Manlycampaigned very actively against the proposal.
No local elected official, nor the Prime Minister, were favorable to the project. In December, Scott Morrison said “this is not the right project for these communities and these pristine beaches and waters”.
What is PEP11?
PEP11, first granted in 1999, actually expired in February 2021, but was still in effect and overseen by the Joint Authority – the State and Commonwealth Ministers who preside over the administration of the licensing of oil, gas and petroleum exploration.
The joint authority, including federal water and resources minister Keith Pitt, who is a consistent and determined advocate of offshore drilling, delayed their decision as they considered extending the PEP11 license for another two years , as requested by licensees.
The main permit holders were Active Energy Pty Ltd (a subsidiary of Advent Energy, an unlisted oil and gas company based in Perth, itself owned by BPH Energy), which held an 85% interest, and Bounty Oil and Gas NLwhich held the remaining 15%.
The stakes were high. An article from July 1, 2020 on Small caps website (which monitors small businesses listed on the Australian Stock Exchange) revealed: “BPH Energy has reviewed years of work on the potential PEP 11 gas field in the Sydney offshore basin and reveals it has identified structural leads can hold 1 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas. To put that into perspective, the Bass Strait fields since 1965 have produced 6 TCF, or the equivalent of 1 TCF of gas supply over a 10-year period.
“Additionally, a 2010 report compiled by private project generator Pangean Resources concluded that potential raw undiscovered recoverable gas resources in PEP 11 were estimated at 5.7 TCF (at the “best estimate” level). ).”
BPH Energy admitted that the target area of PEP11 was close to residential centers. “Prospects and tracks mapped in the Sydney Offshore Basin are generally located within 50km of the greater Sydney-Wollongong-Newcastle metropolitan area. This area has about 5,000,000 inhabitants…
“The petroleum license area is mostly shallow with an average depth of 200m.”
Corridor of cetaceans
The 100km stretch of NSW coast between Manly and Newcastle, where the consortium planned to drill, lies in the path of an important cetacean migration route between Antarctic waters and the warmer whale breeding grounds in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
From May to November each year, thousands of whales pass through Sydney on their return migrations north and south along the east coast.
These include toothed whales – southern bottle-nosed, pilot, melon-headed, sperm and seven “beaked” species – and baleen (strainer-mouthed) – Bryde’s species , fin, humpback, minke, right and sei whales, as well as recently returned whales. blue whale.
Around 10 species of non-migratory dolphins and their larger cousins, killer whales (including pygmies and false killer whales), also inhabit the marine environs along Sydney’s east coast.
The risk of oil derricks and mining equipment adversely affecting their sonar, or an oil spill contaminating the coastal waters in which they swim, was high.
Manly resident Layne Beachleyseven-time world surfing champion (the most successful female surfer in history) and recipient of the Order of Australia, warned that the drilling plans of BPH Energy and Bounty Oil & Gas would be disastrous for both the local economy and the ecology.
“I would hate to see oil or gas rigs on the most beautiful horizon on Earth. It would destroy tourism, it would destroy marine ecosystems, it’s a whale migration route. He doesn’t belong here and I would hate to see him on my watch.