British oil giant BP has ditched plans to drill exploration wells in the Great Australian Bight despite resources already spent on the project. Greenpeace welcomed the decision as a victory for environmentalists.
BP announced Tuesday it dropped its plans to drill in the Great Australian Bight. The company had aimed for four deep exploration wells in the waters off the South Australian coast to see whether commercial quantities of oil or natural gas were present.
But it was a controversial plan with the huge bight a haven for whales, seals, dolphins and penguins.
The energy giant's managing director for exploration and production in Australia, Claire Fitzpatrick, said the decision not to proceed followed a review of BP's upstream strategy earlier this year.
Local communities to benefit
"We have looked long and hard at our exploration plans for the Great Australian Bight, but in the current external environment we will only pursue frontier exploration opportunities, if they're competitive and aligned to our strategic goals," she said in a statement.
Greenpeace noted BP should never have considered drilling for oil in such a pristine wilderness in the first place, welcoming the firm's decision to abandon its original plans.
"This news will be especially welcomed by the local communities near the waters of the bight like the tourism operators, oyster farmers and fishers, who rely on it for their livelihoods," Greenpeace Australia oceans campaigner Nathaniel Pelle commented.
BP's application to drill had repeatedly hit hurdles at the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority for failing to meet strict environmental criteria. But the company denied this impacted its decision.
hg/jd (dpa, AFP)