Australia could lead the world in ocean energy

One of the world’s leading offshore energy authorities has said Australia has the potential to lead the world in ocean energy research and setting environmental protection standards.

Dr Ken Lee (pictured) has taken the helm of CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship program, which will bring to together more than 200 scientists and technical staff to provide the science to support the healthy and sustainable co-existence of the ocean energy industry with marine industries and communities.

According to Dr Lee, offshore oil and gas will play a critical part in Australia’s future energy needs and, as such, the region needs to capitalise on its potential to lead the world in sustainable ocean energy research.

“In the past few months, 13 new offshore petroleum exploration permits have been granted in the Indian Ocean off the coasts of Western Australia and Tasmania. The Great Australian Bight is another example of a potentially vast, untapped oil and gas resource,” he said.

“We need to ensure regulators, industry, governments and marine park managers are equipped with the best possible scientific information available.”

Dr Lee – the former executive director of Canada’s Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research – said a holistic and co-ordinated approach was needed to understand the full impacts of offshore oil and gas activities on the environment and surrounding communities, from exploration through to decommissioning operations.

The Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship team plan to increase its collaboration with the Australian and international oil and gas industry.

“For example we are collaborating with BP and South Australian research partners to study the Great Australian Bight and develop a near-unique whole of ecosystem and socio-economic research program to ensure future developments for the area coexist with the environment, industries and the community,” Dr Lee said.