Proposed Oil Drilling Near The Iconic Twelve Apostles Has Locals Furious   

“The Twelve Apostles is no place for exploratory drilling. My community won’t stand for this.”

twelve apostles oil drilling

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The Twelve Apostles, one of Australia’s most iconic tourist destinations, is just five kilometres from where the government has announced new areas for offshore oil and gas exploration — and members of the community are pissed.

On Tuesday, the federal government released proposals for 21 new offshore blocks across the coast of Victoria and Western Australia, where they intend to undergo exploratory drilling for oil and gas.

The areas included Victoria’s Gippsland, plus basins in Western Australia and Tasmania.

But the proposal causing the biggest stir, is the area situated roughly 5 kilometres from the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park — a much-loved Australian treasure situated off the Great Ocean Road and the coast of Port Campbell in south-western Victoria.

When announcing the news on Tuesday morning, the Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt said would be a “crucial component of the government’s gas-fired recovery” and that the “continued release of areas for exploration is important to providing a steady supply of energy for the future.”

Bidding has now opened up to oil and gas companies, who Resources Minister Pitt has “welcome[d] and encourage[d]” to invest in the offshore exploration acreages. 

It’s pretty common for the federal government to announce new areas for offshore oil and gas exploration each year.

But the timing of the latest announcement comes as the Morrison government is being urged to commit to net zero emissions target by 2050.

Just in 2019, in Port Campbell — where the new proposed drilling plans are happening again – residents protested against deep-sea drilling in the Great Australia Bight.

The Norwegian oil giant Equinor ended up abandoning the plans, due to the controversial project not making commercial sense, which was a huge win for locals.

But on Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that oil and gas would “always” be a play a huge role in the country’s economy, when addressing the petroleum industry’s annual conference via video link.

Even the Resources Minister pointed out in a statement to Guardian Australia: “Gas and oil exploration has safely occurred side by side in this area with other industries for decades, including tourism.”

Federal MP for Corangamite Victoria Libby Cook has voiced her strong opposition to the plans, urging the government in an address to parliament to “immediately rethink its plan” that is “not in line with the views of [the] my community who live on the Great Ocean Road”.

“They overwhelming oppose any plan to drill for new gas along the pristine coastline…they want investment in renewables and green energy,” she continued.

Cook also pointed out that prior to COVID-19 the Twelve Apostles was a “major tourism” attraction with “about six million visitors each year”.

“We must ensure we protect this beautiful, fragile coastal environment from inappropriate development.”

And she isn’t the only one wanting an end to the new exploration plans.