Murphy Oil has asked the Federal Government to approve an exploration well about 30km from the Batavia shipwreck site, near the Abrolhos Islands, which could infuriate environmentalists as well as history buffs.
Murphy yesterday lodged environmental referral documents with Federal regulators asking for permission to drill the well, in shallow waters, in permit WA-481-P, late next year or early 2015.
The US company successfully bid for the permit last year and has committed to drilling three wells.
Murphy says it does not expect the Batavia site, which is on the National Heritage register, to be affected by its drilling activity.
The company says it has no option but to drill the well to adhere to Government conditions.The oil and gas industry has in the past expressed frustration that plans to carry out exploration in permits awarded by the Government are thwarted by regulators, often on environmental grounds.