Energy giant BP made some controversial and downright insulting comments about how an oil spill would benefit the economies of Australia’s coastal towns.
According to WAToday, in its bid to drill in the Great Australian Bight, the company claimed that the cleanup from an oil spill would give the coastal economies a boost.
BP has since withdrawn its drilling plan, however, the details of the bid shed light on the egregious inner workings of many big oil companies.
Another example is that BP also allegedly told an Australian federal government agency that a diesel spill would be deemed “socially acceptable.”
The company submitted the environment plan that included the aforementioned statements to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority back in March 2016.
BP wanted to drill two wells off the South Australian coast, which prompted concerns of a possible environmental disaster similar to BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010.
Government documents released under the freedom of information laws and obtained by Climate Home News revealed that officials found many discrepancies in BP’s plan.
They requested that several statements be removed or supported by additional analysis, including the company’s claim that “in most instances, the increased activity associated with cleanup operations will be a welcome boost to local economies.”
Despite the revelations of the documents, a BP spokeswoman asserted that the correspondence was part of an ongoing process which ended when the projected halted.
“Given the project did not proceed, work on the draft environment plan ceased, so the correspondence in question doesn’t represent the final views of BP or the regulator,” she reportedly said.
BP dropped its plans in October 2016. It transferred two offshore leases to Statoil, an oil industry company, and canceled two others. However, after the entire ordeal, environmental activists warned that several oil and gas companies still held titles in the Great Australian Bight.
Nathaniel Pelle, Greenpeace senior campaigner, said the documents indicated that Statoil’s proposed offshore drilling location “could spread 40 million liters of sludge along a 750km [about 467 miles] stretch of coastline, anywhere from Western Australia to Tasmania and NSW.”
“There is no way to drill for oil safely in the bight,” he added.
The government authority maintains that information released under the freedom of information only reflected the beginning stages of the environment plan.
“[The authority] sees significant improvements in environment plans as they are refined through the iterative process,” they reportedly said in a statement.
Additionally, the Australian manager of Statoil, Jacques-Etienne Michel, defended the company by claiming they “will only undertake drilling activity if we can do it safely.”
"By the time we drill we will have spent more than two years planning this project to satisfy ourselves that we can operate safely and in accordance with Australia’s strict environmental and regulatory requirements," he said.
It is rather difficult to trust the word of a big oil company, particularly after becoming aware of their original environmental proposals. The fact that either company, Statoil or BP, would submit drafted plans that trivialize the dangers and threats of an oil spill indicates that they do not have the best interests of the environment or residents in mind.