13 November 2020
Petroleum Exploration Permit 11—known as PEP 11—covers 4,500 square kilometres of ocean, from Newcastle, through the Central Coast to Manly. This much-loved and beautiful marine environment is an area of rich biodiversity and is part of the whale migration path. This coastline is also home to internationally famous beaches and sustains significant local industry and tourism.
The Exploration Permit is due to expire by February 2021, unless renewed. The project proponents, Advent Energy Ltd and Bounty Oil & Gas NL, are seeking a renewal of the permit and variation of the conditions to allow for exploratory drilling.
Many constituents have written to me with their concerns about PEP 11. I thank them and the many advocacy groups who are shining a light on potentially devastating outcome for our environment.
Offshore oil and gas exploration and production through PEP 11 could have dire consequences for our ecosystems, tourism businesses, coastal communities and climate. Under no circumstances should it proceed.
The renewal request will be determined by Minister Pitt under the joint authority of Commonwealth and State Governments.
- In February this year, I tabled a petition to the Commonwealth Parliament calling for a ban seismic testing and drilling in the PEP 11 area – you can view the full speech here
- In August, I spoke again in Parliament, calling on the Minister and the Government to refuse the application to extend the PEP 11 licence. You can view the full speech here
- Also in August I wrote to Minister Pitt and Deputy Premier Barilaro calling on them to reject the extension of the title and the proposed variation – my letters and the Ministers’ disappointing responses are here:
Letter to Deputy Premier Barilaro
Response from Deputy Premier Barilaro (16 Sept 2020): "The administration of petroleum and greenhouse gas titles in commonwealth waters is managed by the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA). NOPTA is reviewing Asset Energy Limited's recent application and will provide its recommendations to the Joint Authority for consideration...the final decision to grant PEP11 will be made by the Commonwealth Minister."
Letter to Minister Pitt
Response from Minister Pitt (5 October 2020): "The titleholders of PEP-11 submitted an application to the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) to vary, suspend conditions and extend the permit term... The application is currently being considered by the Joint Authority which consists of myself and the Hon John Barilaro MP, New South Wales Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales, Industry and Trade, as the decision makers."
- In October I asked the Prime Minister about PEP-11 during Question Time:
- In October I also spoke on a motion about PEP-11, which you can watch here
I note that between 16 September and 5 October the recommendations from NOPTA were provided to the Joint Authority, however, we are yet to see what the recommendations are. I will be calling on the Joint Authority to release the recommendations publicly.
I met with Minister Pitt on 28 October to discuss the latest developments including the point raised above on the delivery of the recommendations from NOPTA, he advised me that he has yet to see the recommendations and that I should follow up with Minister Barilaro regarding the status of the report. I am writing to Minister Barilaro and have requested a briefing from NOPTA and NOPSEMA regarding the approval process and current status.