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BP Great Australian Bight oil spill could impact all southern Australia’s coast

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An oil spill in the Great Australian Bight from a deep-sea well blowout would be devastating for fisheries and marine life, according to new independent oil spill modelling commissioned by the Wilderness Society.

Oil giant BP has asked Australia’s offshore oil and gas authority, NOPSEMA, for approval to drill four deep-water exploration wells in the Bight. BP was responsible for the world’s biggest oil spill accident, the Deepwater Horizon tragedy in 2010, with 800 million litres of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days after the company tried drilling an exploration well. NOPSEMA has just one month to address BP’s Bight drilling application.

“An oil spill in the Great Australian Bight from a deep-sea well blowout would be a disaster for fisheries, tourism and marine life,” said Wilderness Society South Australia Director Peter Owen. “The damage would be irreversible.

“A spill would be devastating for South Australia’s $442 million fishing industry and its tourism industries in coastal regions, worth more than $1 billion. The two industries employ more than 10,000 full-time positions. The Bight’s pristine waters are a haven for whales, boasting the world’s most significant southern right whale nursery as well as many humpback, sperm, blue and beak whales. It’s also Australia’s most important sea lion nursery.”

The Wilderness Society commissioned independent ocean scientist Laurent Lebreton to model oil spills scenario in the Great Australian Bight. Lebreton’s work has been endorsed by Flinders University Emeritus Professor of Oceanography, Matthias Tomczak. Lebreton looked at what impact an oil spill like the Gulf of Mexico disaster would have on the Bight as well as three other scenarios. He modelled 1000 spills for summer and winter conditions for the four different scenarios using 20 years of environmental data.

“The model shows that an oil spill in the Great Australian Bight could result in the closure of fisheries in the Bight, Bass Strait and even the Tasman Sea. Even a low-flow oil spill could impact all of southern Australia’s coast, from Western Australia right across to Victoria through Bass Strait and around Tasmania.

“We don’t need a Gulf of Mexico disaster in the Great Australian Bight. A winter spill lasting that long but with just 10 per cent of the flow would most likely impact Kangaroo Island within four months, highly likely enter SA’s Spencer Gulf and Gulf of St Vincent and more than likely reach Victoria and possibly Tasmania.

“In summer it’s highly likely a low-flow spill would reach WA’s Twilight Marine Reserve within four months, posing a serious risk to this important Southern Right Whale calving area.

“A Gulf-scale spill could destroy marine environments in the Bight and oil contamination could even reach as far as Sydney and New Zealand, with a 10 per cent chance of hitting the South Island within six months.

“BP claims an oil spill will last only 35 days even though the Gulf of Mexico spill lasted 87 days. The Montara oil spill off Western Australia in 2009 lasted 74 days. BP’s oil well containment response system will be located on the other side of the world in Houston with other capping stack options potentially coming from Norway or Singapore. There is no established offshore oil and gas industry in South Australia to deal with a disaster.

“The Great Australian Bight waters are more treacherous and more remote than the Gulf of Mexico. Bight waves are 4-6 six times bigger than the waves in the Gulf of Mexico around the time of BP’s disaster. The Bight is also far more windy.”

Under NOPSEMA regulations, BP must consult with stakeholders, giving them “sufficient information” to make an “informed assessment” of the project and its possible consequences, but BP has not revealed important information. BP has not published its oil spill modelling or completed its oil spill emergency plan.

“BP can’t be trusted in the Great Australian Bight,” Mr Owen said. “BP is responsible for the world’s biggest oil spill and then refuses to give the Australian public important information about the risks involved in its deep-sea oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight.

“The government must step in and take back responsibility for Australia’s marine environment.”

Energy

Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?

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sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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Energy

7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees

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As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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