Norwegian energy company Equinor is pulling out of a planned oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight following months of relentless campaigning from environmental activists.
“Equinor has concluded that the project’s potential is not commercially competitive compared with other exploration opportunities in the company,” Equinor said in a statement.
“We will engage with the federal and state authorities regarding our decision to discontinue the exploration programme. We hold an exploration permit offshore Western Australia and will maintain other ongoing interests and activities in Australia”, the company’s manager for Australia, Jone Stangeland, said.
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Resources Minister Keith Pitt said while it is disappointing to the government, the company is not leaving Australia.
“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 said.
“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.”
“I want to highlight that Equinor worked within the rigorous approval processes in place for this project and the company’s environmental plan had been accepted by NOPSEMA.
“Since Equinor was first granted the exploration permit in 2011, the company has undertaken a rigorous and very public process of consultation and approvals process.”
Last month, the Wilderness Society l;aunched legal action against NOPSEMA after it granted conditional environmental approval to the project, which would have allowed the company to drill 24 hours a day for about 60 days between November and April in either 2020–21 or 2021–22.
Only one year ago, a record-breaking 50 blue whales were spotted in the Great Australian Bight! 🐋
If there’s any proof that the Bight deserves protection against @Equinor’s deep-sea oil exploration, this is it. 👇https://t.co/vfjw5cydfg#worldwhaleday #fightforthebight pic.twitter.com/GbFoWJlfFS
— Wilderness Society (@Wilderness_Aus) February 16, 2020