Predictable, unsubstantiated, scary and misleading claims by some environmental groups do little to inform public debate about the benefits of seismic surveying work in the Great Australian Bight, Norwood Resource said today.

Today’s announcement by the Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane to award new offshore exploration blocks will translate into hundreds of millions of investment on resource exploration and provide significant economic opportunity for South Australia and Western Australia.

Seismic surveys have been conducted in Australian waters using compressed air as the source for more than 40 years.

These surveys have been closely scrutinised by regulators, particularly in the last 15 years and there is no evidence of adverse impacts to the environment. In fact, all the evidence points to minimal or no impacts. Minimal impacts involve such behaviours as avoidance of the seismic operation by just a few km, not 10’s or 100’s of km as environmental groups sometimes claim.

Australian whale populations are among the most studied in the world. For example, the humpback population on the North West Shelf has increased at close to biological maximum at the same time the oil and gas industry has developed the resources in the area. Furthermore, the population of humpbacks on the west coast of Australia has recovered (following the cessation of whaling in Australian waters) and increased at the same rate the population of humpbacks on the east coast where there has been minimal oil and gas exploration and no oil and gas development.

Similarly, even though the recovery of southern right whales is slower due to their reproductive cycles, the population at the Head of Bight, SA, has increased at a rate close to biological maximum, while at the same time over 130,000 km of seismic traverses (seismic survey) have been acquired and at least 10 wells have been drilled in the region. Environmental groups have incorrectly claimed that this is a new activity for the region.

Not only are whale populations unaffected, individual whales monitored in proximity to seismic surveys also show no signs of adverse impacts. An article on The Norwood Resource’s website demonstrates this:

As seen in other petroleum provinces around Australia such as the Gippsland and Otway Basins off Victoria and the Carnarvon Basin off Western Australia on the NW Shelf, oil and gas exploration and development is conducted with no adverse impacts on the environment. If Australians wish their standard of living to be maintained and not be dependent on importing energy from overseas, the ongoing rational, careful and sensitive development of its petroleum resources must continue.