CANBERRA, Australia, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- British energy company BP announced it won the rights to explore for oil and gas reserves at four deep-water blocks off the Australian coast.
BP said it won the rights to develop any commercial discoveries located during the exploration of four deep-water blocks in an area covering 9,200 square miles.
"This is a material and early move into an unexplored deep-water basin," said Mike Daly, executive vice president of exploration for BP, in a statement.
The controversy surrounding deepwater drilling was heightened following the sinking of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico last year. The accident led to one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of the oil industry.
Martin Ferguson, the Australian resources and energy minister, said in a statement that exploration of previously untapped resources like those off his country's southern coast is central to Australia's energy strategy.
"BP's exploration activities, and indeed those of all operators in Australian waters, will be undertaken in accordance with our stringent environmental and safety standards," he added.