Equinor abandons Great Australian Bight oil exploration plan

Norwegian-based energy company Equinor has abandoned its controversial oil exploration program in the Great Australian Bight, citing that it was “not commercially competitive” compared with other opportunities.

“We will engage with the federal and state authorities regarding our decision to discontinue the exploration program,” Equinor’s manager for Australia, Jone Stangeland, said in a statement.

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

Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt says the decision is disappointing, but asserted that the company is not leaving Australia.

Related article: Canavan announces transparency measures after Bightgate

“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,” he said.

“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).”

Environmental groups that opposed the project are today rejoicing the decision.

The Australia Institute has called for the Bight to be world heritage listed.

In March last year, Equinor was accused of downplaying the extent of damage a potential oil spill could cause from exploration in the Bight.

Not long after, then Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan announced all environmental plans for offshore oil and gas activities will be published.

Equinor is the third company to abandon plans to drill in the Great Australian Bight.