December 6 - 12, 2020: Issue 477


Advent Energy Says No Plans For Gas Drilling Off Sydney's Coast 

photo by A J Guesdon.

NB: This episode of "The Coast" (with Wendy Frew) was broadcast on Radio Northern Beaches on Friday December 4th, 2020 but after it goes to air, people can listen to the full episode anytime on the link at base of report. Wendy Frew's The Coast goes live to air every Friday at 11 am.


The company that wants to conduct exploratory gas drilling off the NSW coast says that under any renewal of its permit, drilling would not take place off the Northern Beaches coastline.

Executive Director of Perth-based oil and gas explorer Advent Energy Ltd, David Breeze, said the company’s primary drilling target is about 50 km south of Newcastle, and the drills would be about 22 kilometres offshore.

“It is nowhere near Sydney’s Northern Beaches,” Mr Breeze told Wendy Frew, host of weekly environment program on Radio Northern Beaches, The Coast. Any drilling infrastructure would not be visible from the shore, he said.

Advent, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Asset Energy Pty Ltd, holds 85 per cent of Petroleum Exploration Permit 11 – known as PEP 11 – an exploration permit located in the Offshore Sydney Basin.

PEP 11 is due to expire in February, 2021. Advent Energy and minority stakeholder in the permit, Bounty Oil & Gas NL, are seeking a renewal of the permit and a variation of the conditions to allow them to undertake oil and gas exploratory drilling.

Under the current permit, they can undertake seismic surveying in a 4,576sq km zone from Newcastle to Sydney. At the end of the permit’s term, the permit holders must relinquish 50 per cent of the zone where exploration is allowed.

Mr Breeze said surveys left Advent Energy confident there was a sizable gas resource off the Newcastle coast.

But Liberal MP for Mackellar Jason Falinski says that after years of exploration, the permit holders had little evidence there was much gas in the permit zone.

Mr Falinski, who has spoken in Parliament against the permit renewal, told The Coast he continues to lobby Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt to reject the application for a permit renewal.

He says it would be “irrational” to renew the permit because the company had found no gas.

“You are just causing unnecessary community concern when there is no prospect of actually finding anything that will create jobs or lower electricity prices or improve our climate or the the environment,” he said.

Independent MP for Warringah, Zali Steggall, Liberal MP for eastern suburbs electorate Wentworth, Dave Sharma, and Federal Labor MP for Newcastle, Sharon Claydon, along with a number of community groups, are also opposed to any renewal or variation of PEP-11.

Earlier this year, community group Save Our Coast initiated a petition opposing the drilling that attracted 60,000 signatures. Ms Steggall delivered the petition to the Australian Parliament. 

She told The Coast that all government MPs would be responsible if the permit application was successful.

“I think it is very important for people to realise that if a government is going to approve this then the members of that government have to also be responsible for it.”

She said too that the proposal represented a risk to coastal tourism and industry, and would inevitably lead to more greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

“Any additional exploration for fossil fuels is contrary to any real goal of keeping global warming as close to 1.5 degrees [Celsius increase in global temperatures] as possible,” Ms Steggall told The Coast.

“It is simply poor management and poor governance to support drilling for gas off this area of the east coast of Australia.”

Brendan Donohoe, President of the Northern Beaches branch of Surfrider Foundation Australia, said the permit application was “all part of the oil and gas plunder of the oceans”. 

He said there were plans for a community delegation to visit Parliament in Canberra, possibly as early as this Monday, 7 December, to lobby against the permit’s renewal.

“There is nothing good about it,” he told The Coast. The only good thing about it is the energy we can get from it but you can get energy from elsewhere now so why do it at all?”

“If the [permit] is renewed, I can promise you people will know about PEP-11 like people have never known about PEP-11 … I don’t care if it is the biggest gas reserve on earth … its going to affect the biggest coastal population in this country.” 

 “The ‘Fight for the Bight’ [opposition to a proposal to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight] has given surfers around Australia and around the world a great deal of confidence that we can make change and help change.”

In the wake of major and sustained community protests, in February this year Norwegian company Equinor abandoned plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight. It said its exploration drilling plan was "not commercially competitive" compared with other exploration opportunities.

While acknowledging Mr Falinski’s opposition to PEP-11, Mr Donohue said it was a pragmatic stance.

“It’s a no brainer for him. He understands the electorate. He knows he has a pretty safe margin but your political allegiance doesn’t cut across the idea that you can ruin my beach and I will still vote for you,” he said. 

“This is the thing that could bring the swing that loses a blue ribbon liberal seat. It is probably one of the few things that probably could, even with the culture wars that go on around fossil fuels.”

To listen to the full interviews with Advent Energy and opponents to its drilling plan, go to

The Coast
Radio Northern Beaches

A new program about all things native and natural on the Northern Beaches of Sydney launched on local community radio station, Radio Northern Beaches, at 11am on Friday, 6 November, 2020.

The Coast, hosted by Pittwater resident and journalist, Wendy Frew, covers environmental and sustainability issues, and includes interviews with local residents, ecologists, bird watchers, animal rescuers, and many others.

The program explores everything from native flora and fauna and invasive pests, to waste reduction and recycling. 

In the first season of The Coast, several episodes focus on unique nature reserves on the Northern Beaches, such as Bangalley Headland and the Warriewood Wetlands. The program also takes a look at the health of our beaches, and the impact of private and public transport on our wildlife.

Wendy Frew has a long career in journalism here and overseas. She is a former Environment Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald, and winner of the 2007 Peter Hunt Eureka Prize for Environmental Journalism. She was also the inaugural editor of the BBC's Australian online news service, and the founding editor of UTS research magazine Brink

You can tune in to The Coast on Radio Northern Beaches at 88.7 / 90.3 FM, each Friday at 11am, or stream from the RNB website, or listen via Mix Cloud at

Wendy Frew