Senator Rex Patrick wants to limit drilling licences in the Great Australian Bight

Senator Rex Patrick
Senator Rex Patrick

South Australian Senator Rex Patrick plans to introduce an amendment to a senate bill that would limit exploration licences in the Great Australian Bight from being granted extensions.

The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Cross-boundary Greenhouse Gas Titles and Other Measures) Bill 2019 was passed by the House of Representatives in February this year to make amendments to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006.

Mr Patrick also wants an additional amendment to the act to specify that exploratory drilling licences in the Great Australian Bight can only be granted for a maximum of 10 years.

"It's time to end uncertainty for South Australia's fishing and tourism industry," he said.

"For decades they have had to operate in the shadows of exploration, including seismic testing, and the prospects of drilling in the Great Australian Bight ... the uncertainty has stifled investment."

Mr Patrick said more than 40 oil and gas exploration permits have been granted in the Great Australian Bight, and 13 exploration wells were drilled between 1972 and 2003.

Since then, only seismic surveys have been conducted.

"We've seen BP come and go, Chevron come and go, Karoon Gas come and go and Equinor come and go," said Mr Patrick.

"These large companies all pulled out because, quite simply, drilling for oil in the Bight is not economically viable.

"Meanwhile the presence of the remaining oil companies and the ongoing prospect of drilling has adversely affected investment in the fishing and tourism industry.

"The fishing industry on the Eyre Peninsula alone is worth $500 million per annum, with $400 million in exports, while the EP tourism industry is worth more than $300 million.

"I will move an amendment to the bill in the senate today that will limit exploration leases in the Great Australian Bight to 10 years."

Mr Patrick said Bight Petroleum, as an example, had sought and received six exploration permit extensions since 2011.

"The continued uncertainty for our fishing and tourism industries must end," he said.

This story Patrick plans to limit drilling licences first appeared on Port Lincoln Times.