Barilaro recommends PEP11 not be renewed

Thousands of Central Coast residents are anxiously awaiting a decision on the renewal or otherwise of the PEP11 permit for oil and gas drilling 5km off the coastline.

The target area, known as the Baleen Prospect, is 30km south east of Newcastle, roughly placing it in ocean waters off Lake Munmorah.

The permit came up for renewal on February 12, with a decision expected soon by the Joint Authority on whether to renew the licence or cancel it.

The final decision on the permit’s fate was to be made by the Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Federal Resources Minister, Keith Pitt, both of the National Party.

Barilaro announced on February 17 that he had written to Pitt, the Federal Member for Hinkler in Queensland, recommending that PEP11 not be renewed.

“Mr Pitt formally wrote to me last week seeking my recommendation and I want to acknowledge the representations made to me by my parliamentary colleagues,” he said.

“I have listened to their views, and those of the people they represent and it confirms my own position to recommend that PEP11 is not renewed.”

Pitt will now make his decision after receiving Barilaro’s recommendation and considering “all relevant information”, including advice from the National Offshore Titles Administrator (NOPTA).

The decision looms against a backdrop of discord within the National Party over fossil fuels.

Two weeks ago, senior Nationals rebuked the former Resources Minister, Matt Canavan, and colleague, Barnaby Joyce, after they had threatened to cross the floor if the Morrison Government moved ahead with its “net zero by 2050” carbon policy.

The Federal Labor Party has also made its opposition to renewal of the lease well known, with Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese, visiting Terrigal on February 5 to reaffirm the Party’s position.

But with the licence holders of the PEP11 permit already making plans for exploration, unease is widespread.

When asked why $9M had been raised by the company, even though the decision to extend the licence is still pending, BHP Energy CEO, David Breeze, said he was “certainly committed to continue with the project”.

Surfrider Foundation Australia said it “holds grave concerns” that the permit will be renewed.

“The joint venture companies currently holding the exploration permit continue to move forward with their plans to drill off the coast, despite the PEP11 permit lapsing (on February 12),” said Foundation Chair, Sean Doherty.

“What do these gas companies know that the community doesn’t?”

Doherty said the NSW Government and every Federal MP with an electorate adjacent to PEP11 have formally opposed the development of offshore oil and gas rigs.

“No fossil fuel development in Australia has been so broadly opposed by all sides of politics,” he said.

Petroleum Exploration Permit 11 extends between Newcastle in the north and Manly in the south and covers 4,500 square kilometres.

Terry Collins and Ross Barry

1 Comment on "Barilaro recommends PEP11 not be renewed"

  1. Luke Mckinnon | February 24, 2021 at 7:00 pm |

    The change of the permit from a variation, suspension,extension to and extension only by Advent now means that if it is approved they will have to do 3D seismic before they can drill.

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