Equinor gives up on Great Australian Bight drilling plans

Norwegian oil and gas company 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.

The Great Australian Bight. Source: Equinor

Equinor said on Tuesday that, following a holistic review of its exploration portfolio, it had 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.

Equinor’s proposed Stromlo-1 well was located approximately 400 km southwest of Ceduna and 476 km west of Port Lincoln and in a water depth of approximately 2,240 meters.

Equinor added it had informed the federal, South Australian and local authorities about its decision. The company entered the licenses in the Ceduna sub-basin as a partner in 2013 and took over as operator with a 100% equity share in 2017.

“We will engage with the federal and state authorities regarding our decision to discontinue the exploration program. We hold an exploration permit offshore Western Australia and will maintain other ongoing interests and activities in Australia,” Stangeland said.

Equinor has not mentioned the oppostion it has been facing since filing the plan for exploration drilling in the Great Australian Bight. One of the most recent challenges was a legal action against Equinor by an organization looking to protect wilderness areas.

Namely, the Wilderness Society South Australia last January started legal proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia to challenge the environmental approval granted by NOPSEMA to Equinor to begin oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight.

With this decision to discontinue its Bight drilling plans, Equinor has joined other oil majors like BP and Chevron, as well as Australia’s Karoon Gas.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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