GEOPHYSICAL OPERATIONS IN THE ONSHORE OTWAY BASIN, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Welcome to the information, consultation and public feedback page for Beach Energy’s draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and its accompanying Statement of Environmental Objectives (SEO) for Geophysical Operations in the onshore Otway Basin, South Australia.
Please note that the consultation period on the EIR and SEO is now closed.
Beach Energy Limited and its group subsidiaries (Beach) hold a number of petroleum exploration, production and retention licences in the onshore Otway Basin in the South East of South Australia.
The approvals process for proposed regulated exploration activities includes an environmental assessment and the approval of environmental objectives.
This Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and the accompanying Statement of Environmental Objectives (SEO) has been prepared by Beach under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 to cover Beach’s ongoing geophysical operations in the region.
A key requirement for the development of a SEO is that Beach must undertake public consultation. This website has been developed to aid in this process by enabling regional stakeholders and the public to review the information and provide feedback on the EIR and SEO documents.
At the conclusion of the consultation period, public feedback will be addressed. A summary of Beach Energy’s responses will be provided in an amended version of the EIR and the SEO prior to the submission to the Government for assessment.
Early engagement with key stakeholder groups commenced in March 2020. As the global COVID-19 pandemic unfolded and restrictions on non-essential gatherings were imposed, Beach Energy adapted its approach to engagement to comply with social distancing requirements. This included:
- an increase in online engagement and the use of online engagement tools
- an extended EIR / SEO consultation period
- the use of teleconferences with stakeholders
- increased promotion of consultation through local newspapers and the local radio.
Consultation is undertaken with Government agencies including the Environmental Protection Authority and the Department of Environment and Water; traditional custodians and landholders; relevant statutory authorities and local councils, and; the general public.
GEOPHYSICAL OPERATIONS – Seismic surveys
Seismic surveys are an important geophysical exploration method used to produce detailed images of the subsurface geology. This geophysical method is commonly used to determine the location and size of possible oil and gas reservoirs.
Seismic surveys send sound waves (vibrations) into the ground. These sound waves bounce back (reflect) off subsurface features such as different rock types, and are detected by receivers back at the surface.
Once all the data from a seismic survey is collected, the information is processed by powerful computers and then interpreted by specialist geophysicists.
Safety and the environment
For Beach, the safety of our people and the local environment are the highest priorities for our operations and projects. Beach also operates within a highly regulated industry and must meet stringent environmental and safety standards.
In accordance with South Australian legislative requirements, before any activity can commence, a comprehensive environmental assessment process must be undertaken and approval of specific environmental objectives must be obtained.
Watch this video for a detailed overview of the activity approvals process. Further information on the petroleum industry regulatory processes can be found by clicking on this link:
whY are 3D seismic surveys NEEDED IN THE SOUTH EAST?
Whilst the main objective of a seismic survey is to better image the geology and reduce subsurface uncertainty, a key environmental outcome is that seismic surveys help to minimise the number of potential future wells being drilled in a region.
For example, the Haselgrove 3D seismic survey (acquired in 1997 and reprocessed in 2014) enabled Beach Energy to discover natural gas in the conventional Haselgrove-3ST1 well in 2018. The seismic imaging allowed Beach to pin-point the location of the gas-filled reservoir more than 3,500m below the surface. This local gas is now supplying South East businesses and residents.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT
This Environmental Impact Report (EIR) has been prepared by Beach Energy under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 to cover Beach’s ongoing geophysical operations in the onshore Otway Basin in the South East of South Australia. This EIR does not cover other petroleum activities such as drilling, well operations, fracture stimulation, production or processing operations.
Copies of current and past EIR’s (and SEO’s) for various activities prepared by Beach Energy can be found by clicking on this Department for Energy and Mining hyperlink.
STATEMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL OBJECTIVES
The intent of the Statement of Environmental Objectives (SEO) is to outline the environmental objectives to which geophysical operations will conform, and the criteria upon which the achievement of these objectives will be assessed.
The objectives of this SEO have been developed on the basis of information provided in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) (Beach Energy, 2020), and are in keeping with the objectives of the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Beach Energy Limited (Beach) was established in the early 1960s by the late Dr Reg Sprigg, a highly regarded geologist, explorer and conservationist. Headquartered in Flinders Street Adelaide, Beach has operated and non-operated onshore and offshore oil and natural gas operations across five producing basins in Australia and New Zealand. Beach is currently Australia’s second largest oil producer and we supply about 15 per cent of the east coast natural gas demand, which includes South Australia.
Onshore petroleum exploration and development in South Australia is administered by the Energy Resources Division under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 and associated Regulations. The approval process involves the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) which is used to identify potential risks to the environment and how those risks will be managed. The EIR then drives the development of a Statement of Environmental Objectives (SEO) which identifies how environmental objectives will be achieved.
An extensive public consultation on the EIR and draft SEO is undertaken with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), the Department of Environment and Water (DEW), the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI), SafeWork SA, the Department for Health and Wellbeing (DHW), the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation (AAR), relevant statutory authorities, local councils, landowners, key stakeholders and the general public.
A detailed activity notification is then prepared and submitted, which includes an activity-specific environmental assessment against the approved SEO. A Notice of Entry is provided to affected landowners, and once an agreement is in place, and any land entry issues have been resolved, the Minister for Energy and Mining will issue an approval to commence activities.
For more information on the petroleum industry regulatory processes in South Australia please visit:
In accordance with Section 97 of the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000, Licensees are required to prepare an Environmental Impact Report for proposed regulated activities. This document addresses the potential threats and risks on the environment and outlines the extent to which these threats are likely and manageable.
The types of assessments carried out cover potential environmental impacts such as cultural heritage; flora and fauna; landscape; surface and groundwater; geotechnical; air quality; noise; community impacts and consultation.
A Statement of Environmental Objectives can relate to either a specific activity carried out at a specific location; or an activity type (e.g. drilling, seismic activities, the construction of facilities and pipelines) carried out within a specific region. The Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 gives a broad definition of the environment to include the natural, social, cultural and economic aspects of the region.
An SEO must include objectives that relate to construction activities, operational activities, emergency response and management, rehabilitation in cases involving a serious or reportable incident, decommissioning, abandonment, rehabilitation, and dealing with the consequences of events associated with the relevant activities on the various aspects of the environment. An SEO must also include conditions and requirements for achieving the stated objectives, such as incident reporting requirements.
These features provide transparency to stakeholders on what is required of the licensee in terms of its environmental performance.
Beach Energy meets face to face with landholders, occupiers, nearby neighbours and representatives of the First Nations of the South East to explain the operations and work with them to identify the best way to manage any impacts. We also consult directly with regulators, relevant government departments and agencies, and local government. For our local communities, we consult with community representatives, provide briefings at community group meetings, and provide information via email, post and phone calls.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to limit person-to-person contact, more of Beach’s consultation activities may be conducted online for the time being. This means video conferences may replace some face-to-face meetings where appropriate.
All questions, feedback or concerns are considered and responded to. Beach is committed to keeping the community up to date on its activities, throughout all phases of its projects.
Beach Energy engages with the local Aboriginal traditional owners on the majority of its activities in the South East. This usually involves working with the traditional owners to undertake a cultural heritage inspection of the impacted area. Known cultural heritage and significant sites are identified and protected from operations using temporary flagging, fencing or exclusion zones to prevent damage, disturbance or interference. Inductions for field crew include cultural heritage awareness training and what to do if suspected Aboriginal heritage site or artifacts are discovered during operational activities.
Geophysics applies the principles and methods of physics to the study of the Earth. Scientists use geophysical techniques such as electromagnetics, magnetotellurics and seismic to measure and analyse subsurface conditions in the Earth. Many of these geophysical survey methods are used for the exploration of economic materials such as groundwater, metals and hydrocarbons. Geophysics is also commonly used for engineering and environmental problems such as groundwater contaminant mapping, urban utility mapping, forensics, dam safety and archaeology.
Seismic surveying is a safe and sustainable exploration method used to determine the size and location of subsurface natural gas reserves. Seismic surveys are a reliable method for establishing a detailed subsurface image of geological structures to determine suitable drilling locations. A survey will send sound waves (vibrations) into the ground and record the energy that bounces back from rock layer boundaries below the surface. This activity results in minimising the number of wells being drilled in a region as it reduces subsurface uncertainty.
Recent discoveries in the area have shown that the region is prospective for natural gas reserves. High quality 3D data acquisition allows for detailed exploration studies to be conducted and gives the potential for future gas development projects. 3D seismic data improves the imaging of the subsurface and allows wells to be drilled in the optimal locations for successful intersection of gas resources. The high-quality data also ensures safe drilling operations as it allows for better imaging of faults and the definition of aquifers which can then be mapped and further protected and/or avoided.
After the survey is acquired, the data that is collected is processed by a team of specialist scientists using super-computers. The process can take up to 1 year before a final seismic data set is produced. After the data set is loaded into a technical interpretation program, geophysical specialists at Beach Energy will evaluate the results in a process that can take an additional 6 to 12 months. Decisions on drilling gas wells are only made after a rigorous process of geophysical interpretation, commercial modelling, risk assessment, and a lengthy internal and external regulatory approval process. If a future drilling decision is made, Beach Energy will consult with landholders and the community at that time.
For more information on Beach Energy’s drilling activities in the south east, please see the current approved drilling EIR & SEO here:
Beach Energy has strong relationships with many local suppliers in the South East including accommodations, catering, transport, electricians, civil engineering firms, earthwork operators, fencing, ag supplies, hardware, waste handling and removal. Wherever possible we seek to work with local suppliers that share our values.
For more information on becoming a local supplier, please contact the Beach Penola office or send us a note using the contact form provided below.
Beach is committed to keeping the local community informed of its operations in the region and has a full time Regional Manager based in the South East.