BP given permit to drill for oil off SA  

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The SMH reports that BP are looking to start exploring for oil off the South Australian coast - BP given permit to drill for oil off SA.

THE company behind last year's disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP, has been granted its first Australian oil-exploration permit since the accident.

The move could pave the way for deepwater drilling.

The Deepwater Horizon well spewed nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico beginning last April. Now the company plans to begin seismic surveys in the Great Australian Bight off South Australia from next summer with a view to drilling in 2013 or 2014.
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The Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, said yesterday that the government would impose particularly stringent conditions on BP because of last year's spill.

Although the permit gives BP the right to explore and develop any commercial oil or gas fields it finds, drilling and seismic surveys would require further environmental approval.

''This is the start of a long, extensive, drawn-out and exhaustive process,'' Mr Ferguson said. ''BP's exploration activities, and indeed those of all operators in Australia waters, will be undertaken in accordance with our stringent environmental and safety standards.''

The permits cover an area 180 kilometres off the coast at depths of 140 to 4600 metres. ...

The Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 workers when the rig exploded, is regarded as one of the worst oil spills and highlighted the risks of deepwater oil drilling.

But Mr Ferguson said oil exploration had to be encouraged to deal with the nation's $16 billion trade deficit in petroleum products. Due to dwindling reserves, the deficit is expected to widen to as much as $30 billion by 2015.

''Our energy security will be greatly enhanced by opening up new geological frontiers and reducing our dependence on imports,'' he said.

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