March – November 2015
Exploration Permits Vic/P69 and Vic/P43, with an acquisition area of 930 km2 in water depths of 40-90 m.
Other than the usual challenges associated with undertaking consultation with commercial fisheries and settling on mutually acceptable solutions to minimise impacts to fisheries, the approvals process for this project was reasonably smooth. This all changed immediately prior to the MSS commencing.
With the survey vessel about to dock at the Port of Melbourne, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) undertook an office-based audit of the EP. NOPSEMA determined that Origin had not met its obligations with regard to the Management of Change (MoC) process described in the EP, specifically with regard to ensuring that any new scientific literature regarding the impacts of seismic surveys on marine fauna was to be reviewed in light of the science presented in the accepted EP.
Between granting acceptance of the EP and the start of the MSS, further research (commissioned and funded by Origin and the CarbonNet Project) was released regarding the impacts of seismic surveys on crustaceans (e.g., rock lobster) and molluscs (e.g., scallops). That research concluded that there was a risk that seismic activity could disorient rock lobsters and cause them to flip over and cause some temporary disorientation. While Origin determined that these risks were not significant enough to warrant revising the EP and resubmitting it to NOPSEMA, commercial fishers thought otherwise and escalated the issue to NOPSEMA.