Environmentalists fear extensive eco-system damage from West Australia oil spill

The Thai drilling company PTTEP which is responsible for one of the biggest oil spills in Australian history has picked up five new exploration licences in addition to several oilfields in Australian waters. 

The company has not yet been able to fix the leak at its Montara operations off the Kimberely coast and concerns about the environmental impact of the two-month leak continue to mount with around 79 per cent Australians, according to a Pew poll, saying the spill will cause long-term damage to the marine environment and sea life.

Despite growing concerns about the impact of the mishap, however, the Australian government has thought it fit to go ahead with $11 million purchase of new oil assets by PTTEP, a move supported by federal resources minister Martin Ferguson and Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board. 

The licences were acquired from fellow oil exploration company OMV, give PTTEP control of an extra 1480 square kilometer of Australian waters in the vicinity of the leaking Montara rig, 650 kilometres west of Darwin. 

As the Montara leak continues to spill hundreds of barrels of oil into the sea every day, the deal has raised concerns among environmentalists such as University of West Australia associate professor of marine ecology Euan Harvey who says s that the company needs to demonstrate that they cannot impact on others' livelihood and or on the ecosystem and at the moment they have demonstrated very clearly that they can't do that. 

Harvey who has been studying marine biology in the waters close to the spill over the last few years, said the oil slick posed a grave risk to the larvae of large finfish, which spawn in October.