Murphy Oil seeks approval to drill near Abrolhos Islands

Murphy Oil has submitted documents seeking federal approval to drill an exploration well 30km from the Batavia shipwreck near the Abrolhos Islands off Western Australia.

The US company wants to drill the well in shallow waters in permit WA-481-P late next year or early 2015.

According to the West Australian, Murphy lodged the environmental documents needed for the exploration activity with federal regulators yesterday.

Murphy was successful in its bid for the permit area last year and says it is committed to drilling the well.

The plan is set to draw ire from environmentalist groups who earlier this year expressed concerns around drilling at the site.

 The Greens' marine issues spokesperson, Senator Rachel Siewert, said the site off the coast of Geraldton is too close to the Abrolhos Islands.

"The Abrolhos Islands are a unique marine environment, they're important for their conservation value and their ecological value but also of course we know that they play a vital role in our fishing industry,” she said.

Federal Resource Minister Gary Gray said there is a long process before any projects can be developed which includes environmental approvals.

"We have exploration leases and then when a company has found something, if they find something, it then goes into a retention lease while they consider how they might extract the oil or gas and at that point that process then draws in environmental regulation.

"That draws in the process for ensuring that any petroleum or hydrocarbons activity is properly regulated and managed and then an approval may be given for production."

Murphy said it does not expect the Batavia shipwreck site, which appears on the National Heritage register, to be affected by its drilling activity.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.