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They Just Drilled Under The Great Ocean Road

An exploration gas well has been drilled 2.5km off the coast Two Mile Bay, on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. While troubling, the drilling isn’t unusual. The area is fast becoming an offshore hub for gas production. What is both troubling and unusual however is that this offshore well was drilled from a location onshore.

 

The Enterprise 1 well was drilled by Australian oil and gas company, Beach Energy late last year from a location onshore, in farmland 3km from Port Campbell. The company used a technique called “directional drilling”, drilling diagonally to reach a gas reservoir 2052m below the sea floor.

 

Beach Energy required a special permit from the Victorian Government to drill underneath Port Campbell National Park. The drilling was adjacent to the London Bridge rock formation, a favourite stop for tourists, and almost straight underneath the big-wave break at Two Mile.

 

Beach Energy announced to the market back in February that the drilling had been successful and had discovered a gas column. “To have our first exploration well in the Victorian Otway program deliver a successful result is an excellent outcome for the business,” said Beach’s Chief Executive Matt Kay. The company has cased and suspended the well for future production, as early as 2022.

 

The area is currently subject to more drilling permits, and the company has told the market the successful well opens the door for more wells to be drilled. "This success enhances our plans to develop more supplies for the East Coast gas market,” said Kay. “The Enterprise result also de-risks other nearby prospects, warranting their evaluation as potential future drilling candidates.”

 

It was announced yesterday that an adjacent area directly off the Twelve Apostles had been approved for exploration by the oil and gas industry as part of the 2021 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release.

 

The drilling at Two Mile had been the subject of strong opposition. Led by Friends of the Earth Melbourne – a Patagonia environmental grantee – the campaign to prevent an expansion of the offshore gas industry in the Otway Basin has highlighted the proximity of the drilling to the world famous Great Ocean Road. In this case they drilled straight underneath it.

 

“The whole idea of opening up new gas development within sight of the Twelve Apostles just shows that the Victorian Government is willing to risk anything for the sake of the gas industry,” said Cam Walker from Friends of the Earth.

 

The Victorian Government has also recently committed to net zero emissions by 2050 but has refused to comment on how the expansion of the gas industry in Victoria effects this goal. “The Victorian government understands that time is running out when it comes to climate change and has committed to net zero,” said Walker, “but opening up new sources of fossil fuels, like offshore gas, is deeply at odds with both climate science and the government’s own commitments.”

 

Banner Image: Photo: Jarrah Lynch

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