Norway’s Equinor have revealed they’re abandoning plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight, becoming third major fossil fuel producer to do so.
The company received approval for their plans last December, with more than two-and-a-half years of planning and meetings leading up to the controversial go-ahead. Despite receiving widespread condemnation from environmental groups, scientists, and traditional owners, Equinor seemed intent to begin drilling around two kilometres off the South Australian coast.
Now, it appears as though the company has had a change of heart, announcing they’ll no longer continue with the project, claiming that it is “not commercially competitive compared with other exploration opportunities in the company.”
“The approval of the Stromlo-1 exploration well Environment Plan confirmed our ability to safely operate in the Bight,” said Jone Stangeland, Equinor’s Australian country manager, in a press release.
“However, Equinor has decided to discontinue its plans to drill the Stromlo-1 exploration well, as the opportunity is not commercially competitive.”
The company state they’ve informed the federal, state, and local authorities about their decision, and have already begun looking ahead to other projects.
“We will engage with the federal and state authorities regarding our decision to discontinue the exploration programme,” Mr Stangeland continued. “We hold an exploration permit offshore Western Australia and will maintain other ongoing interests and activities in Australia.”
Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt also issued his own statement calling Equinor’s decision “disappointing”, while supporting future projects relating to oil exploration in the Bight.
“Equinor has made it clear this was a commercial decision and the company will continue to be part of the Australian oil and gas industry,” Minister Pitt stated.
“I know 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.
“The Liberals and Nationals Government remains committed to encouraging the safe development of Australia’s offshore petroleum resources, which is overseen by a world-class independent regulator in the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).
“The Bight Basin remains one of Australia’s frontier basins and any proposals for new oil and gas fields in this area will be assessed fairly and independently.”