Equinor Quits Great Australian Bight Drilling Plan

Great Australian Bight
Great Australian Bight

Published Feb 25, 2020 4:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

Equinor has informed the Australian authorities of its decision to discontinue its exploration drilling plan (Stromlo-1) in the Ceduna sub-basin, offshore South Australia. 

Following a holistic review of its exploration portfolio, Equinor has concluded that the project’s potential 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. However, Equinor has decided to discontinue its plans to drill the Stromlo-1 exploration well, as the opportunity is not commercially competitive,” said Jone Stangeland, Equinor’s country manager for Australia.

The company entered the licenses in the Ceduna sub-basin as a partner in 2013 and took over as operator with a 100 percent equity share in 2017. It holds an exploration permit offshore Western Australia and will maintain other ongoing interests in Australia.

Sea Shepherd Australia has welcomed the decision, saying the Great Australian Bight is a pristine and unique marine environment, and it is a significant nursery for southern right whales. As a member of the Great Australian Bight Alliance, Sea Shepherd Australia has been campaigning against the drilling since 2016. 

Sea Shepherd Australia's Managing Director Jeff Hansen said: "Kudos to Equinor for joining BP, Chevron and Karoon Gas in ceasing their plans to drill for oil in our Great Australian Bight and not risking one of the world's last big intact marine wilderness areas. The whales are sure to be celebrating today."

Earlier this year, over 30,000 people wrote to the industry regulator NOPSEMA to voice their opposition to Equinor’s plans and #FightfortheBight paddle-outs around the country have attracted over 10,000 participants. 

Hansen is claiming victory. “I truly hope that this news sends a lightning bolt of positive energy around the world and lifts all others globally fighting for nature. This victory shows that nothing is impossible, for together we are a mighty force.”