After PEP11 protests, paddle outs, and no formal decisions made, the company proposing gas and oil exploration off the coast of Newcastle has called for tenders for wellhead equipment and materials.

‘Stop PEP11 Paddle Out’ in Newcastle last May, Photo: Nicholas Klynsmith @hyperventilating_eyes

Advent Energy announced to the Australian Stock Exchange on Monday, May 31, that its subsidiary, Asset Energy, had issued a call for tender to provide subsea wellhead equipment, materials and services for the Baleen drilling program.

“This equipment provides the ‘foundation’ for the Baleen well and is the first stages of well construction,” it said.

“This is an important step in the preparation and planning for the Baleen-1 well (and) ensures that Asset will be ready to commence drilling after relevant approvals have been received.”

Advent Energy’s PEP11 licence expired in February 2021, and the renewal of this comes down to a decision made by Federal Minister for Resources Keith Pitt.

Save Our Coast Founder Natasha Deen said she was shocked and disappointed that the proponents of PEP11 intended to push forward with their plans despite no decisions made concerning the renewal.

“If the PEP11 licence has expired and the renewal application has not yet been approved, why should the oil and gas company be allowed to conduct business as usual when there is such mass opposition?” Deen said.

“Coastal communities have fiercely opposed this flawed plan that risks our way of life and is catastrophic to the coastal ecosystem.

“Every single Federal MP along the PEP11 zone has opposed this project as well as the Prime Minister himself.

Baleen well site location planned approximately 30 kilometres south-west of Newcastle and 26 kilometres offshore.

“The government has to make it clear to Advent Energy that they have no right to commence works, and they need to ensure that Minister Pitt listens to the clear wishes of the communities and cancels PEP11.”

The PEP11 zone extends between Port Stephens and Sydney with the Baleen well site location planned approximately 30 kilometres south-west of Newcastle and 26 kilometres offshore.

Deen said she welcomed Minister Pitt’s careful consideration of the coast’s future but said a delay in a decision placed severe stress and uncertainty on the community.

“A delayed decision on cancelling PEP11 not only places communities under severe stress, but it also sends a message to these oil and gas companies that they can continue business as usual,” Deen said.

“It’s time for PEP11 to be cancelled, and for the coast to be saved for future generations.”

Along with the tender for equipment, Advent Energy has also appointed Xodus Group, a global energy environmental consultancy, to prepare the Environmental Plan and assess the Baleen well’s environmental impacts for the first submission to NOPSEMA (National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority).

Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon said that NOPSEMA had not received any advice from Minister Pitt regarding the current application for an extension of PEP11.

“There have been zero approval processes in place to do any drilling or exploration, which still requires an Environmental Plan and extensive consultation, none of which have been submitted to NOPSEMA yet,” Claydon said.

‘Stop PEP11 Paddle Out’ in Newcastle last May, Drone Photo : Shane Blue

“This call for tender is a very premature move on the part of Advent Energy; it suggests to me that they are wanting to send a message to their investors and that they are still moving on with this project – but there is no way that they could execute their plans in the foreseeable future.

“There is only one person who can put an end to this uncertainty. He alone has the power of veto in this decision, and he alone can ensure the community’s wishes are enacted. It’s time to listen to the voices of the people.

“PEP11 has no place in our waters.”

Advent Energy executive chairman David Breeze said they would not proceed with any drilling until the regulatory authorities gave them the green light.

“It’s necessary that we get NOPTA approval and NOPSEMA approval—both of those government approvals are a necessary precondition to undertake drilling.”

Hayley McMahon

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