TNR has previously asked the question “Is the eNGO campaign against BP’s Bight drilling program deceptive?“.  In that article we demonstrated how the likes of The Wilderness Society’s Peter Owen does not let the facts get in the way of his misinformed story. While TNR members have every respect for and are protective of the environment (probably more so than many activist eNGOs!), we do question the misinformation, myths, scaremongering and distortion of the truth peddled by the Great Australian Bight (GAB) Alliance, which is an alliance of eNGOs; The Wilderness Society and Sea Shepherd; along with a variety of activist groups,  in pursuit of their agenda to shut down the oil and gas industry in Australia, regardless of the hardship it will create to the Australian community.

It is the GAB Alliance that is bringing Sea Shepherd’s M/Y Steve Irwin to SA (at a reported cost of $150,000 of, probably, tax-deductible funds). Let’s have a look at some more examples of misinformation:

  1. Even the designation of the vessel used by Sea Shepherd, “M/Y meaning “Motor Yacht”, appears to be deliberately misleading and is obviously an oxymoron! We’ve searched the web, including Sea Shepherd’s website, and cannot find any photographs of the M/Y Steve Irwin with its sails raised.  We did, however, find the vessel specifications, not on the Sea Shepherd website, but on its associated WhaleSpotter website. The photographs and the relevant specifications (Propulsion: 2 x British Polar Engines 12-cylinder 2,100 bhp (1,600 kW), driving variable-pitch propeller; Fuel Capacity: 200 Tons) confirm the vessel is very dependent on the petroleum industry for its propulsion, including that chopper on the back deck!
    The M/Y (Motor Yacht) Steve Irwin in action! Where are the sails?
    The M/Y (Motor Yacht) Steve Irwin in action! Where are the sails? (Photo courtesy of
    The M/Y (Motor Yacht) Steve Irwin at anchor! Where are the sails and what fuels the chopper?
    The M/Y (Motor Yacht) Steve Irwin at anchor. Where are the sails and what fuels the chopper? (Photo courtesy of

    All this reminds us of the time that Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior was photographed in New Zealand re-fuelling from a BP tanker. We wonder what the M/Y Steve Irwin will use for fuel when it comes for its campaign against the petroleum industry to various SA locations in August – we can be sure it will not be methane from unicorn farts!?

  2. While misinformed claims by The Wilderness Society have previously been addressed in the above linked article, it is worth looking at some earlier claims made about exploration in the GAB by various GAB Alliance participants and their friends to see what has eventuated. The seismic surveys that normally precede drilling in the exploration process have all been conducted from late 2011 to early 2015. A total of 44,000 sq km of 3D seismic coverage were acquired during this period to add to the approximately 122,000km of line coverage acquired up to 2011. Did any of the dire claims made by these people eventuate? NO!! Even they, in their latest campaign, still claim the area to be ‘pristine’! Let’s have a look at a couple of the specific claims:
    1. As reported in the Victor Harbour Times on 21 June 2012, Tony Bartram, a representative of Kangaroo Island Dolphin Watch, claimed a seismic survey in the GAB “…..could have a detrimental effect upon whale watching (in Victor Harbour!) and lead to a decline in this crucial element of the region’s economic activity.” Did this scaremongering claim eventuate? It does not look like it given the sightings reported by Victor Harbour Whale Watch and their opening statement “Every winter South Australia enjoys the return of Southern Right whales to its shores“. Turn the clock forward almost exactly 4 years (Victor Harbour Times  23 June 2016) and Tony Bartram is still giving his ‘expert’ advice on what might happen. Ironically, he’s still ignoring the facts, saying “You can’t have that level of noise blasted into the ocean without any impact. They (whales) will turn away but there’s not enough real data to say if they will come back when the noise stops.” Given the seismic surveys were completed in early 2015, proof of his scaremongering was obvious before his comments were published, as can be seen in the SA Whale Centre’s 2016 sighting log.
    2. As reported in our article “The right to protest or lobby should not be abused” the torrent of wild claims during 2014 about the GAB seismic surveys by groups such as The Greens, KI Council/Wild Migration, IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) and Wilderness were not based on factual, scientific and verifiable information. Did the “worse case scenarios” eventuate during the acquisition of approx 44,000 sq km of 3D seismic data in the GAB? Of course not! Even the environmental groups themselves still call the area “pristine” while ignoring the fact that whale populations have been decimated by whale hunting and fish/other marine life have been decimated by over-fishing and/or “by-catch” (a euphemism for being strangled to death in fishing equipment). Nevertheless, during late 2014/early 2015, many of these groups attempted to blame seismic surveys for the unfortunate strandings that occurred on Yorke peninsula. This is despite the fact there is no evidence for seismic surveys causing strandings and despite the fact that similar strandings have been occurring for thousands of years (well before humans dreamed of conducting seismic surveys!). A NOPSEMA investigation of all the facts surrounding the Yorke Peninsula strandings, based on extensive feedback from many groups, concluded that there was “no evidence to suggest there was a likely correlation between offshore petroleum activities undertaken in the region and the strandings.

In conclusion, disingenuous claims made by a number of environmental groups have already been proven totally incorrect. Their objective of demonising the petroleum industry and sanctifying renewables ignores the fact that renewables are heavily dependent on petroleum and mineral resources (how could a wind farm be built without steel, coal to make the steel, concrete, etc?).  Their claims also ignore that fact that society’s quality of life would be dramatically reduced without the use of petroleum products. The community deserves a balanced debate about the inevitable transition to a sensible energy mix and the misinformation, myths, scaremongering and distortion of the truth peddled by many environmental eNGOs should not be allowed to compromise our future.