Oil and gas corporation ConocoPhillips has announced plans to start test drilling for gas deep beneath the seafloor in the Otway Basin between Victoria and Tasmania.
Modelling from ConocoPhillips’ own plans shows spills could reach the coastlines of Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.¹
We only have until 18 December to submit public comments to the government regulator, NOPSEMA, calling on them to refuse this risky test drilling proposal.
This animation is based on modelling information provided by ConocoPhillips in their Environment Plan.² It represents the full and combined extent of areas that modelling of different spills from multiple scenarios shows could be impacted, and is not to exact scale.
The exact location of each of the six proposed drill sites has not been released by ConocoPhillips, but the methane gas they will be drilling for is mixed with oil, gas condensates and other hydrocarbons. A spill or leak would have devastating consequences.
Modelling from ConocoPhillips’ Environment Plan shows spills could spew hydrocarbons, including oil, into the ocean, impacting the coastlines of Victoria and western Tasmania. Even in what ConocoPhillips calls a ‘low to moderate’ scenario, a spill could impact as far as Jervis Bay in New South Wales and near Kangaroo Island in South Australia.
What would happen if a spill occurs during gas test drilling?
Hydrocarbon spills are one of the most damaging threats we can subject our oceans and coastlines to.
- Whales and seals could be forced to breathe and feed in waters polluted with oil and other hydrocarbons that burn their eyes and line their lungs.
- Seabirds and shorebirds like little penguins and shy albatross could end up coated in oil.
- Krill and other types of zooplankton could be polluted with toxic compounds that end up in marine food webs.
- Commercial fisheries could be closed while the mess is cleaned up.
- Spills could also reach the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area coastline, damaging irreplaceable cultural heritage sites.
If ConocoPhillips does lose control of a wellhead, they estimate it would take up to 90 days to stop the spill. That’s up to three months of oil and other hydrocarbons pouring out into our oceans and impacting our beaches.
Our marine life and coastal communities shouldn’t have to risk a spill tragedy just so an international company can test drill for gas in our oceans.
ConocoPhillips has submitted their plan to the government regulator, NOPSEMA, for approval. We only have until 18 December to tell NOPSEMA to refuse this plan, and protect our oceans, marine life and coastal communities from this risky test drilling proposal.
1. ConocoPhillips Australia, 2023, Otway Exploration Drilling Program, URL: https://conocophillipsaustralia.mysocialpinpoint.com.au/otway-exploration-drilling-program/otway-exploration-drilling-program-home/