You might’ve seen a few posts around recently asking you to sign a petition to oppose PEP 11. Here’s the rundown on what’s going on. 

What is PEP 11?

Last year we reported on a 45,000 square kilometre proposed oil and gas exploration and extraction project just off of Australia’s east coast, stretching from Newcastle all the way down to southern Sydney. Patagonia even made a video about it. 

In December, the proposed venture known as PEP 11 (Petroleum Exploration Permit 11) which involves off-shore drilling as close as 5.5km off the coast of the most populated area in Aus, was open for public comment, with an expected Senate hearing to happen in May 2020.

Could PEP 11 actually happen?

Well it seems someone in the government likes the idea, as the proposal is only two approvals away from becoming a reality.

The project is awaiting drilling persmission from NOPTA (the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator) as well as approval for PEP 11’s permit to be granted a two year extension. It’s currently supposed to conclude in 2021. 

And according to the fossil fuel companies themselves, their application to NOPTA has been assessed, with the ‘final decision and anticipated approvals imminent‘. 

That ain’t good. Take a look for yourself.

This is the 45,000 square km exploratory zone of the project. 



I got this directly from the Bounty Oil and Gas website. Like, they’re not even pretending it’s not gonna affect us.

Wait, why is PEP 11 so bad?

There’s no denying it – we all still depend on gas and oil for our society to function.

However approving and establishing new fossil fuel projects is only slowing the transition we desperately need to be making to renewable energy. In fact, it’s taking backwards steps when we should be leaping forward. Think of all the jobs we could be making by building new renewable technology instead, ahh!

So despite the absolute eye-sores that would mark our precious coastline in the form of hideous oil rigs, the environmental damage this project could cause is hauuuge. 

There’d be an enormous risk of oil spills and methane leaks, as is the case with every off-shore drilling project. 

The mere industrial presence of the project on the water and below it, would have a devastating effect on the rich biodiversity of this stretch of ocean. From the installation of infrastructure directly disturbing habitats, to the dumping of waste and contamination of the water.

Plus it’s smack bang in the middle of the humpback whale migration path! Like, what? They can’t be serious. Ahh, but they are. That’s why we gotta do something about it. 

What can I do to help stop PEP 11?

There’s a petition going around in opposition to the proposal, which you can sign here

But why not take it one step further and write a strongly worded letter to your Member of Parliament as well? For the most impact it’s best to send it from your own personal email address and to personalise it.

You can find your local MP and their email address here, plus Save Our Coast has made up a great letter template to work off if you’re a little lost for words – I don’t blame ya.

So, is there any good news in all of this?

The good people at Save Our Coast have been fighting this proposal for quite a while now. In January they had a massive win when Asset Energy (another fossil fuel company in on this) announced that they’d ditch their plans to conduct seismic testing as part of PEP 11 – possibly the most damaging part of the whole project. 

This seismic testing would’ve been used to find the biggest gas and oil reserves by letting off airgun blasts underwater every 2-3 seconds, all day long for days or weeks at a time, causing immeasurable disturbance and destruction to the underwater world.

That’s off the table for now, but probably just makes the rest of the project look more palatable. 

So please, do what you can to oppose this project. Our coastline is too precious to compromise.


Feature photo by Jarrah Lynch, thanks to Patagonia