Industry backs SA Bight potential after Chevron's exit

Chevron says it has cancelled plans to drill in the Great Australian Bight

"Chevron has made it clear its view that the resource potential of the Great Australian Bight remains significant but their decision is a reminder of the much-needed investment in developing Australia's energy resources can not be taken for granted", APPEA's South Australia director Matthew Doman said.

Chevron said the decision to ditch its $400 million plans had nothing to do with government policy, regulatory, community or environmental concerns.

The American company, which acquired two deep-water exploration permits in the Bight in 2013, has blamed low oil prices for the decision.

British oil giant BP abandoned its plans to drill in the area a year ago after reviewing its global exploration programme.

Much of the area marked for exploration in the Bight, which stretches about 1,000 miles between the states of South Australia and Western Australia, lies in a marine reserve, home to whales and sea lions.

But environmentalists cheered the move, with the Wilderness Society urging Norway's Statoil and other companies seeking to drill in the area to follow BP and Chevron's lead.

He also expressed confidence in Chevron's ability to drill without mishap.

"The resource potential of the Bight can not be overlooked as the economic development benefits for South Australia would be significant".

Like Chevron, BP had stressed its decision to leave the Bight was commercial, despite coming weeks after Australia's oil-and-gas regulator requested more information on how the British oil giant planned to manage environmental risks there.

"Chevron has made clear its view that the resource potential of the Great Australian Bight remains significant, but their decision is a reminder that much-needed investment in developing Australia's energy resources can not be taken for granted", Mr Doman said.

"The news Chevron has given up on drilling in the bight means the coastal communities of Southern Australia have dodged another bullet, but the threat of Statoil still looms", Greenpeace Australia Pacific Senior Campaigner Nathaniel Pelle said in a statement.

"In Australia, onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration is at 30-year lows due to hard market conditions, escalating regulatory costs and political bans on energy development", Doman said.

"With the oil price halving over the last three years, exploration activity around the world is at very low levels".

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