Media Release Marine Conservation

Bass Strait gas explorer TGS should take heed of Woodside’s rejected Scarborough plans and consult stakeholders properly

September 28, 2023
  • Federal Court today threw out Woodside’s approval for seismic blasting for WA’s Scarborough gas project because of a failure to consult properly
  • TGS will submit a new plan for its seismic blasting program off Victoria and Tasmania but this time the public can’t make submissions on different plan
  • The TGS proposal is the largest 3D seismic blasting proposal on record globally
  • TGS’s first Environmental Plan raised 30,000 submissions, with almost 20,000 from AMCS supporters in opposition

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) is calling on gas exploration company TGS and partner SLB to take heed of today’s Federal Court rejection of Woodside’s approval for seismic testing for its Scarborough project and ensure that they consult properly with affected stakeholders on its Otway seismic testing plans.

Today the Federal Court threw out offshore oil and gas regulator NOPSEMA’s approval for seismic testing for Woodside’s massive Scarborough gas project in Western Australia, saying the company had not consulted properly with a stakeholder before giving the approval.

Energy data company TGS, which is partnered with SLB (formerly Schlumberger), has said it will resubmit plans to seismic blast over a large area of sea between Victoria’s Otway coast and north-west Tasmania. Exploration companies use seismic blasting to locate oil and gas deposits deep beneath the ocean floor, with sonic cannons firing loud explosions underwater.

TGS’s original Environmental Plan attracted 30,000 submissions to NOPSEMA, with almost 20,000 from AMCS supporters opposing this proposal. TGS plans to resubmit an Environmental Plan without opening it to public comment or a consultation period even though the resubmitted plan may have changed dramatically from the previous plan.

AMCS Oil and Gas Campaign Manager Louise Morris said: “The Australian Marine Conservation Society is calling on TGS and SLB-Schlumberger to make their new Environmental Plan publicly available and enter into a consultation process on this new proposal, which impacts so many endangered species and environmentally sensitive marine areas.

“This seismic blasting proposal, if allowed, would see the largest 3D seismic blasting exploration for new oil and gas on record in the world, including over Commonwealth marine parks, blue whale feeding areas, and southern right whale migration and calving grounds.”

“We know from Australian research that seismic blasting is lethal for the plankton and krill which form the foundation of the marine food web and are a food source for endangered blue and southern right whales. Seismic blasting also severely impacts the feeding, navigation, migration, and wellbeing of whales. The blasts are equivalent to a bomb going off every 10-15 seconds, 24 hours a day.

“There is too much at risk for TGS to be able to pass on consultation with its new plan.”