Australia's main source of home-produced oil is in the Bass Straits. Six mammoth platforms off?
Australia's main source of home-produced oil is in the Bass Straits. Six mammoth platforms off the Victorian coast have produced almost all the nation's oil for the past decade. But now, it's running out.
SYNOPSIS: This is the Halibut -- largest of the Strait's platforms. Gas was first discovered in the area in 1965, and the first oil strike took place two years later. More than five hundred million Australian dollars has since been spent on exploration and development. But although the Halibut still produces around sixty per cent of Australia's needs by itself, its fortunes are changing. Gas is running freely, but the oil supplies are drying up. The Halibut used to be the largest oil-producing platform in the world. In 1970, a quarter of a million barrels a day were drawn form it. Now, it's down to 160 thousand -- a little less than two thirds. And by 1980 -- in four years time -- it will be down to a mere 20 thousand barrels a day, according to estimates. This means that unless new oil reservoirs are found in offshore Australia, this giant structure will be fit only for scrap metal. And even if oil is found nearby, it will be a major task moving it. The platform, tall as a city building, was pre-fabricated on shore and floated to the site.
Once there, its legs were fixed rigidly to the ocean floor with concrete piles. It was fixed so rigidly that even the seas won't move it-- being designed to withstand cyclone-force gales.
The deadline in the oil reserves of the Bass Strait has become ominous for Australia. It's estimated it would cost a thousand million Australian dollars a year to import the fuel produced by the Halibut rig alone. For the companies operating the rig --BHP and Esso -- it's an ever-increasing downward spiral. They're held down to one quarter of the world price for crude oil by the Australian Government. But they cannot persuade the authorities to allow them to charge more to develop further field with the money, and to recover some of the exploration costs of rigs like the Halibut.