Energy giant BP has claimed coastal towns would benefit from an oil spill in the pristine Great Australian Bight because the clean up would boost their economies, as part of its controversial bid to drill in the sensitive marine zone.
BP, which has since withdrawn the drilling plan, also told a federal government agency that a diesel spill would be considered “socially acceptable”.
BP made the statements in an environment plan submitted to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority in March 2016.
The company had been seeking to drill two wells off the South Australian coast, raising fears of an environmental disaster akin to BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws, first published by Climate Home News, showed the government authority had identified serious shortcomings with BPs environment plan.
n a letter to BP, the authority said a number of statements should be removed or supported by analysis. They included BP’s claim that “in most instances, the increased activity associated with cleanup operations will be a welcome boost to local economies”.
BP also claimed it had not identified any social impacts arising from the event of a diesel spill and “since there are no unresolved stakeholder concerns … BP interprets this event to be socially acceptable”.
BP explained the statements by saying “Given the plan was never finalized, this material doesn’t represent the final views of BP or the regulator,” a spokesperson from BP said, adding that BP had no plans to reactivate its interest in the Bight. Chevron has also since dropped its own plans for the area.