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Ruling on Bight wells delayed

AAP logoAAP 28/09/2016

Environmental approval for BP's proposal to drill two oil exploration wells in the Great Australian Bight has again been delayed.

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority says it has asked the company for further information on its plan as it continues to assess its environmental credentials.

NOPSEMA says it expects to receive that information by October 28, at which time it will resume the assessment process.

The regulator had been due to reveal its ruling on Thursday after a previous delay.

The decision to ask for more details follows BP revealing the impact of a well blowout in the Bight, with modelling showing oil could reach a wide stretch of the southern Australian coastline.

The modelling showed oil on the sea surface could travel up to 2650 kilometres from the well site and would almost certainly reach large sections of the South Australian coastline.

There was also a 64 per cent chance of it reaching Esperance in Western Australia and a 41 per cent chance of it stretching as far as the NSW south coast, depending on the time of year.

The company said it was confident a loss of control would be contained within 35 days, but said drilling a relief well to completely kill the blowout would take 149 days.

The modelling angered environmental groups and the Wilderness Society has again called for the plan to be axed.

"The risks posed by this project to the environment and the economy of coastal communities across southern Australia are simply too great," Wilderness Society South Australia Director Peter Owen said on Wednesday.

"The time has come for this project to be terminated once and for all."

NOPSEMA twice previously failed to approve BP's proposal, each time inviting the company to modify and resubmit its plans.

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