Exploration for oil and gas in the Great Australian Bight

The Australian Government appreciates that the Great Australian Bight and its surrounding region is important to the local fishing, aquaculture and tourism industries. The region is known for its pristine and unique environment and deserves strong protection.

The Government is confident in the stringent regulatory regime to which all oil and gas activities are subject, and in the assessment processes of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) as the independent, expert regulator. Before starting any oil or gas activity in offshore waters, a titleholder must submit an environment plan (EP) to NOPSEMA, which must include a comprehensive oil spill emergency plan. NOPSEMA cannot accept an EP unless satisfied the proposed controls will reduce the impacts of the activity to as low as reasonably practicable and to acceptable levels.

On 11 May 2017 the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee tabled a report into oil and gas production in the Great Australian Bight. The Committee did not make any joint recommendations, but the report comments were generally supportive of drilling in the Great Australian Bight based on the evidence provided and noting the strong regulatory oversight provided by NOPSEMA.

Australia’s oil and gas industry makes an important contribution to our economy and energy security. In 2015-16 it contributed approximately $31 billion to the economy and employed around 29,000 people. The Government has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. We are taking strong action to meet these commitments, including through measures such as the Renewable Energy Target that will allow for more than 23 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020.