Conservation groups outraged by Australian oil leases

17:26, May 17, 2010      

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Resources Minister Martin Ferguson's announcement on Monday of 31 new exploration leases along Australia's coast caused outrage among conservation groups and local residents.

Ferguson told the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Associations (APPEA) annual conference in Brisbane that the leases included five prospective oil and gas basins varying in size.

"Our energy security will be greatly enhanced by the opening up of new geological frontiers, reducing our dependence on imports," he said.

The region is internationally renowned for its surfing, tourism and wine industries, while its waters are home to unique marine life and half the world's whale and dolphin species, according to the WA Conservation Council.

"What is happening in the Gulf of Mexico now could just as easily happen off the beaches of southwest Australia," Conservation Council spokesman Tim Nichol said.

Source: Xinhua
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