Oil Industry Report Looming

Publication: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Author: Greg Hoy

06/29/2010 - Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: As the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to gush crude into waters off America's east coast at a rate of up to 60,000 barrels of oil a day, the Australian Government has now been handed its own hot potato. The Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson has received a much-anticipated report by the commission of inquiry into the two-month oil leak and fire last year at the Montara exploration well in the Timor Sea, off north-western Australia's Kimberley Coast. The Australian oil industry's on tenterhooks awaiting the findings of the inquiry, as are environmentalists who've called on the minister to release this report immediately. That won't happen until Martin Ferguson has decided how the Government should respond to recommendations, given the acute sensitivities about the future of the Australian oil industry and the many who are dependent on it. Business editor Greg Hoy reports.

GREG HOY, REPORTER: The Deepwater Horizon tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico opened a putrid wound 1,500 metres below sea level that's infected not only the marine environment, but the modus operandi of the world's oil industry.

JESSICA MEEUWIG, CENTRE FOR MARINE FUTURES, UWA: It has highlighted the risks of drilling at great depths, where if we do have an accident, we don't have the technology to fix the problem.

GREG HOY: The crude leaking profusely now for two months, reminiscent of Australia's Montara oil and gas leak late last year, also lasting two months, though it was a distant 250 kilometres off the Kimberley Coast of north-western Australia.

JESSICA MEEUWIG: There was definitely an attitude of out of sight, out of mind.

GREG HOY: The Montara rig's Thai operator estimated 5,000 tonnes of oil were lost; many believe it was far more before emergency crews plugged the leak by drilling a relief well, as is now being attempted in the Gulf of Mexico.


BARRY TRAILL, PEW ENVIRONMENT GROUP: We actually need a moratorium to sit back and consider oil and gas, exploration in deep sea areas, in remote areas, as a whole. We need to put in place marine sanctuaries, areas that are protected in total from oil and gas because they are simply too sensitive.

Read the full transcript, Oil Industry Report Looming, on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Web site.

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