Chevron Abandons Great Australian Bight Plans

Two mum and calf pair Southern Right whales photographed in the Great Australian Bight whilst on Operation Jeedara in South Australia in 2016 (Credit: Eliza Muirhead)

Published Oct 14, 2017 5:33 PM by The Maritime Executive

Chevron Australia abandoned its plans to explore for oil and gas in the Great Australian Bight last week.

“While the Great Australian Bight is one of Australia’s most prospective frontier hydrocarbon regions, in the current low oil price environment it was not able to compete for capital in Chevron’s global portfolio,” said the company in a statement.

Chevron Australia Managing Director Nigel Hearne said the decision was commercial and not a response to government policy, regulatory, community or environmental concerns.

Chevron Australia’s affiliates acquired two deepwater exploration blocks in the Great Australian Bight Basin in October 2013. The acreage spans more than 32,000 square kilometers. 

The company continues its focus on existing infrastructure and vast resources in Western Australia.

“We have invested billions of dollars in Western Australia to commercialize our large gas resource base through the Chevron-operated Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG and domestic gas facilities and expect to be here for decades to come. Through greater collaboration with other producers in Western Australia, Chevron is also pursuing opportunities to accelerate the commercialization of our gas resource base through non-operated LNG facilities,” said Hearne.

Chevron Australia’s affiliate was recently awarded three new exploration blocks in the Northern Carnarvon Basin adding to its significant gas position as the largest resource holder and liquefaction owner. It is the largest resource holder in Australia with around 50 trillion cubic feet of gas resources and has has made more than 25 new discoveries offshore Western Australia since 2009. Once the Chevron-operated Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG projects are fully operational, Chevron will be Australia's largest liquefaction owner with 15.8 million tonnes per annum (MTPA).

The decision to terminate exploration follows that of BP's about a year ago.

Sea Shepherd Australia has welcomed the move. The Great Australian Bight’s pristine waters are a haven for 36 species of whales and dolphins, including the world’s most important nursery for the endangered Southern Right whale as well as many humpback, sperm, blue and beak whales. It’s also Australia’s most important sea lion nursery and supports seals, orcas and giant cuttlefish. 

“Rather than expanding the fossil fuel industry we should quickly transition away from it – the only hope, we believe, for a liveable climate for our children,” said Jeff Hansen, Managing Director for Sea Shepherd Australia.

“Our Fight for the Bight will continue. Statoil, the Norwegian oil giant that picked up BP’s cast-off Bight project, should see the writing on the wall now that Chevron has also quit the Bight.”