Beach Energy consent granted with conditions
03 November 2020
A Beach Energy Resources Holdings (Limited) application for a marine discharge consent in the Canterbury Basin has been granted, subject to conditions.
The consent was granted by a three member Decision-making Committee appointed by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
Beach Energy applied for a consent to discharge trace amounts of harmful substances from the deck drains of a Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU). Trace amounts of harmful substances are sometimes present in deck drainage after the clean-up of minor spills.
The consent relates to Beach Energy’s exploration and appraisal drilling programme within exploration permit PEP38264.
The committee found adverse effects on the environment will be negligible because of the small amount of harmful substance, the short-term duration of the proposed activity, and the characteristics of the marine environment the harmful substances will be discharged into. The decision also notes there will be negligible effects on human health.
Despite this, the consent is subject to a number of conditions to ensure any potential adverse effects are appropriately managed. They include requiring that harmful substances pass through the treatment system prior to discharge, and that harmful substances are stored within a secondary containment system. Beach Energy is also required to notify the EPA in the event of a spill of harmful substances.
The Committee notes in its decision that the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 specifically prevents it from having regard to effects on climate change in its consideration of the application.
The applicant will need additional EEZ Act consents for any drilling to go ahead as part of its exploration and appraisal drilling programme. Applications for these consents will be considered by an EPA appointed decision-making committee. As the EEZ Act regulations classify exploration drilling as a non-notified process, a submission process does not take place for these applications.