Great Australian Bight: Equinor abandons plans to drill for oil

Katie Ramirez
February 27, 2020

"Many will find Equinor's decision not to proceed with this oil exploration project in the Great Australian Bight extremely disappointing, and it is particularly hard for South Australia", Australian Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said in a statement.

In a statement, Equinor said that after a "a holistic review of its exploration portfolio" it decided the project's potential was 'not commercially competitive compared with other exploration opportunities in the company.'.

Equinor ASA has dropped plans for oil drilling deep in the ocean off Australia's south coast following a sustained campaign from environmentalists who said that the project posed too big a risk to the vast and unique marine ecosystem.

Equinor is now the 3rd oil and gasoline corporate to have deserted proposals for drilling within the space since 2016, after competition BP and Chevron.

'A 2018 study by ACIL Allen found successful oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight could see the creation of more than 2,000 jobs in South Australia and generate over $7 billion in average annual tax revenue to Federal and State governments over the next four decades, ' Mr Doman said.

"We hold an exploration permit offshore Western Australia and will maintain other ongoing interests and activities in Australia".

The Australia Institute think tank called on the Australian government to grant the Great Australian Bight world heritage protection.

A public consultation process, which the company initiated despite not being required to under law, attracted more than 30,000 submissions.

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"Of course, any exploration and development have to be done in an environmentally safe manner", he acknowledged.

"The world's climate can not afford to open disastrous new oil frontiers".

'This investment will help tap the enormous promise of South Australia's resources sector driving job creation, investment and royalties, ' South Australian Minister for Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said at the time.

Fellow environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion Australia weighed in on the decision, labelling it a powerful win for grassroots campaigners.

"South Australia has been left in limbo, with the threat of drilling in the Great Australian Bight hanging over the state for far too long", he said.

"The decision by Equinor to discontinue with plans to drill exploration wells is a decision for the company, and questions regarding the decision should be addressed to Equinor", NOPSEMA said Tuesday.

"It's the end of summer now, and I'm already thinking about my children going to play at the beach next summer without worrying about this and thinking, 'what if something goes wrong?'".

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