Monday, November 22, 2010

MEDIA RELEASE: AUSMEPA Urges the Government to Introduce More Stringent Regulations for Offshore Petroleum Exploration and Development

 At the AUSMARINE Conference and Exhibition opening inPerth today a joint AUSMEPA presentation by Michael Julian and Kerry Dwyer on Marine Environmental Protection in the Indian Ocean and Internationally urges the Federal Government to introduce mandatory regulations requiring compliance monitoring by regulatory authorities regarding offshore petroleum exploration and development.

Montara platform ABC News
The presentation looks at some of the evidence presented to the Commission of Inquiry into the Montara well head platform explosion off north western Australia which occurred on 21 August 2009. While the Government is still to make public the Commission’s report, evidence presented to the inquiry is available on the inquiry website.

Michael Julian said the evidence presented clearly demonstrates that current legislation is inadequate in that no compliance monitoring is either required or undertaken by the regulator to ensure the exploration and development company complies with the Environment Impact Statement for the drilling operations.

With increased petroleum and gas exploration in the Indian Ocean off Australia’s coastline there is increased risk of further incidents which could cause great harm to the marine environment.

Deepwater Horizon oil spill
 courtesy of NOAA
The joint presentation also looks at the similarities in the evidence presented at various inquiries into the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year. Findings of these inquiries have also demonstrated inadequate compliance monitoring by the regulator. The USA has already taken steps to address this matter, Australia must do likewise.

The AUSMARINE presentation points out that if rig explosions and major oil spills can occur off the coastlines of two of the most technically advanced countries in oil exploration, what hope is there for developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region and globally, where regulatory requirements and local experience is much less.

AUSMEPA also urges the Federal Government, together with other countries, including the USA, to take appropriate action to establish an international regulatory regime for offshore petroleum exploration and development operations.

Such a regime could be undertaken by the United Nation’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) which has had a dramatic impact in reducing pollution of the sea from ship operations in the past three decades.

Editors Note

The Australian Marine Environment Protection Association is a not for profit association which aims to bring awareness to the Australian community about the importance of the marine environment and the need to protect it for future generations. It does this through a range of education programs freely available from its website,

For more information about AUSMEPA please visit our website here.

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