environmental overview

great australian bight exploration

Under Regulation 13(2) and 13(3) of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009 (OPGGS(E)), the Great Australian Bight Exploration Drilling Environment Plan (EP) must describe the existing environment that may be affected by the activity as well as include details of any particular values and sensitivities (if any) of that environment.  Addressing these requirements includes describing the existing marine environment of the exploration area and the environment that could potentially be affected, including during potential emergency conditions, whether from an incident or any other reason.

To identify the relevant environmental features of the marine environment, it is necessary to define the geographical extent of the environment that may be affected (the EMBA) by the petroleum activity. The EMBA is determined by the predicted spatial extent of all identified planned activities and unplanned (non-emergency and emergency) events arising from the activity.

Most planned activities and unplanned (non-emergency) events may only effect the environment within several hundred metres of the drill rig.  In contrast, potential emergency events arising from unplanned (emergency) events (e.g. diesel spills and the loss of well control) may extend substantially further

environment wildlife turtles
To identify the relevant environmental features of the marine environment, it is necessary to define the geographical extent of the environment that may be affected (the EMBA) by the petroleum activity. The EMBA is determined by the predicted spatial extent of all identified planned activities and unplanned (non-emergency and emergency) events arising from the activity.

Most planned activities and unplanned (non-emergency) events may only effect the environment within several hundred metres of the drill rig.  In contrast, potential emergency events arising from unplanned (emergency) events (e.g. diesel spills and the loss of well control) may extend substantially further.
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Key ecological features (KEF) are elements of the Commonwealth marine environment that are considered to be of regional importance for either biodiversity or ecosystem function and integrity. A number of KEF relevant to the Great Australian Bight Exploration Drilling activities have been identified as part of the Bioregional Plan, including Ancient Coastline 90-120 m depth; Kangaroo Island Pool, canyons and adjacent shelf break, and Eyre Peninsula upwellings; Commonwealth marine environment surrounding the Recherche Archipelago; the Bonney Coast upwelling and the Albany Canyons group and adjacent shelf break.
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Protected areas under consideration by the Great Australian Bight Exploration Drilling Environment Plan (EP) include World Heritage Areas, Wetlands of International Importance, National Heritage Places, Commonwealth Heritage Places and Threatened Ecological Communities.
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Marine parks are created to protect natural features and aesthetic values while allowing recreational and commercial uses that do not compromise conservation values. Each marine park has a management plan that contains strategies to protect the high value assets in the park, as well as descriptions of permitted activities and corresponding regulatory requirements. Commonwealth marine reserves are areas established under the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The former Great Australian Bight Marine Park (Commonwealth Waters) has been included within the new, larger Great Australian Bight Commonwealth Marine Reserve.
A range of socio-economic and culture features were identified from the environment that may be effected (EMBA). These encompass industry, commercial shipping, defence activities, population centres, tourism and recreation, fisheries and aquaculture as well as a range of heritage places and values.