You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Call to delay BP's Bight plans over bolts

AAP logoAAP 12/09/2016

Problems with faulty underwater bolts at oil rigs should be resolved before BP is allowed to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight, environment groups say.

Greenpeace and the Wilderness Society are urging the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority to halt BP's plan until issues with subsea bolts are resolved.

The Wilderness Society says the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is concerned about the bolts, which have been used by the drilling company BP has contracted to do its Bight work, Diamond Offshore.

"We must address the problem because a failure of critical offshore safety equipment could put workers and the environment at high risk for a catastrophic incident," Brian Salerno, director of the US agency, said in a blog in August.

"In the coming months I feel confident we will understand the extent of the problem, and I suspect that soon afterward we will know why the bolts are failing and what needs to be done to make sure they don't fail going forward."

South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has also called for the Australian agency to hold off assessing BP's latest environmental plan for its drilling project, planned to begin late 2016.

"NOPSEMA should delay their decision, due in just a week's time, and be open about the potential for faulty equipment to be used in the Bight," she said.

"Clearly we need to get to the bottom of what exactly is going on here and whether these questionable bolts will be used."

In a statement NOPSEMA said it had previously contacted all drilling rig operators in Australian waters requesting them to inspect the connector bolts used in offshore equipment and it said all bolts from a batch recalled by the manufacturer had been replaced.

It said while no incidents involving the failure of subsea bolts had occurred in Australian waters, planned inspections would continue to confirm that all equipment was fit for purpose.

BP is waiting on feedback from the authority on its latest plan to drill in the Bight - its third attempt since 2015 after previous versions were rejected by the regulator.

It wants to drill for oil at two specific locations, a narrower focus than the first submission which discussed drilling wells across four permit areas.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon