APPEA, the body representing Australia’s oil and gas industry, is stepping up its communications campaign to highlight the benefits of prospective oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight – and the safeguards in place to ensure the environment and community are protected at all times.

The TV and social media campaign highlights supportive views of community leaders towards exploration in the Bight and their concerns to ensure the environment, other industries and coastal communities are protected.

The videos feature former Port Lincoln mayor Bruce Green and Smoky Bay oyster grower Bruce Zippel.

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Bruce Green, who was mayor of Port Lincoln from 2010-2018, highlights the area’s history of turning the region’s natural resources into economic activity, and argues oil exploration and development could be the next industry to provide a significant boost to the local community – provided environmental safeguards are in place.

“We need to have surety that our community will be protected as much as it possibly can be,” Mr Green says. “But the upside of this development could be transformational for us.”

Bruce Zippel, who has farmed oysters in Smoky Bay for 30 years, is chair of Oysters Australia and a past chair of the national and SA aquaculture councils provides his personal opinion about oil exploration in the Bight. In doing so, he stresses the importance of the environment to the oyster industry.

“I wouldn’t support anything that had a negative impact on our business or the environment,” Mr Zippel says. “I think it’s incredibly important for Australia to know whether or not there is a significant oil resource out in the Great Australian Bight – and is important to know if it can be accessed safely.

“If NOPSEMA determine that all of the safety checks are met, that all of the environmental regulations are met, I am quite happy that exploration for oil in the Bight can be done safely without any impact on our industry.”

A report commissioned by APPEA last year found successful oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight could see the creation of more than 2,000 jobs in South Australia and generate over $7 billion in average annual tax revenue to Federal and State governments over the next four decades.

The benefits of this activity would also be widely spread, including in key regional centres such as Port Lincoln and Ceduna, where onshore facilities and services were likely to be based.

The activity will only proceed after thorough environmental assessment and following extensive community consultation.