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Northern Endeavour proof oilers can't be trusted: Environmental Groups

Source: Paul Hunt, Energy News Bulletin

ENVIRONMENTAL groups Greenpeace Australia and the Wilderness Society have taken aim at the oil and gas industry this morning following a national regulator ‘prohibition notice’ which shut down the Northern Endeavour FPSO in commonwealth waters this week.


The organisations, which are running a heated campaign against Equinor's plans to drill an exploration well in the Great Australian Bight, say that the latest shutdown is proof that the oil and gas industry cannot be trusted to drill safely in the Bight.

"The truth is accidents and near-misses happen all the time in the oil industry especially when operating in extreme environments far offshore or in deep water - hence the concern with plans to go ahead with drilling in the incredibly hostile Great Australian Bight," Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner Nathaniel Pelle said.

"These sorts of incidents are rarely publicised, which means the companies responsible often get away with it and escape public scrutiny. Hopefully, this action indicates a willingness to enforce environmental laws more diligently."

This week the national regulator NOPSEMA, took the extraordinary measure of shutting down the Northern Endeavour FPSO over severe safety concerns after an inspection found the FPSO was in such a bad condition that a gas leak or "release of hydrocarbons" could catch fire, risking multiple lives.

Greenpeace said that the ‘stop work' notice was "rare" given that the regulator usually issued ‘improvement notices' and called on NOPSEMA to increase inspections.

"Before someone gets killed or we have another catastrophic oil disaster like the Deepwater Horizon, NOPSEMA should be increasing inspections and stepping in early more often," Pelle said.

Greenpeace's comments were echoed by fellow environmental group, The Wilderness Society, which also drew a line between the FPSO incident and Equinor's plans.

"This shutdown again underscores the huge risks associated with offshore oil and gas drilling, and that's a risk that the vast majority of Australians and coastal communities don't want to take with the marine wonder that is the Great Australian Bight," Wilderness Society campaigner Peter Owen said.

Full story here