POLITICS

BP Plan To Drill Great Australian Bight Could Go 'Catastrophically Wrong': Xenophon

The South Australian Senator is not a fan of the proposal.

02/10/2016 8:21 AM AEDT | Updated 02/10/2016 11:04 AM AEDT
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South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon is concerned about BP's proposal to drill of the state's coast.

Senator Nick Xenophon has hit out at plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight, saying there aren't enough safeguards to stop something going "catastrophically wrong".

Community and environmental groups have pledged to oppose plans by multinational BP to dig 2 new wells of off the South Australian coastline, saying the environmental risks are too high.

BP says it's seeking to determine whether commercial quantities of hydrocarbon resources exist in the area, and wants to explore using a newly-built mobile offshore drilling rig.

Speaking on Sunday, Xenophon said he had serious misgivings about the plan.

"There are real issues here," he told ABC television.

"If something goes catastrophically wrong, the modelling shows we could have an oil spill going up 4,000km of coastline, all the way to Victoria and beyond, so you've got to analyse the risk.

"Even if the risk is low but consequences are catastrophic we've got to be cautious and I'm not satisfied there are sufficient safeguards."

Greenpeace, Labor and the Greens have queried the merits of the project, and Xenophon has previously pushed to have a Senate inquiry re-established.

The Guardian reported this week that Australia's offshore oil and gas regulator wants more details from BP on the drilling application, which has already been rejected twice.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Sunday criticised former coalition MP Wyatt Roy for travelling to Iraq.

Roy was recently in the war-torn Middle East nation as a private citizen and was caught up in a firefight between Peshmerga and Islamic State.

"Mr Roy travelled to Iraq as a private citizen. He was not there in any official capacity, he was not there for work purposes. He was essentially a tourist and by travelling to northern Iraq it is one of the most dangerous hot spots on Earth," Bishop told the ABC.

"He put himself at a very high-risk of injury or death or capture by this terrorist organisation ISIL, and we know what this organisation has done to those that it captures.

I think there would have been a very significant, and justifiable public outcry, if Australian Government resources had to be diverted from the fight against ISIL in Iraq to rescue or evacuate Wyatt Roy because he was in such a dangerous situation."

Bishop has been strident this week in her condemnation of Roy's trip to Iraq.

She also said that the names of those responsible for shooting down passenger jet MH-17 over Ukraine 2 years ago could be known by the end of 2016.

"The next step is to identify those responsible, the chain of command within the Russian military and all those who were involved in making the decision and actually operating that missile," Bishop said.

"That is under way and I expect that by the end of the year, maybe early next year, the list of those that we believe should be held accountable will be confirmed and then there must be a prosecution."

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