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Drilling the Great Australian Bight: Government says ‘no way’ Equinor – for now

Source: The New Daily, June 27th * Andrea Hamblin

The safety authority governing the offshore petroleum industry has knocked back a Norwegian oil giant’s plans to drill in the Great Australian Bight.

Protesters are celebrating the decision as a significant win in the battle to ‘Fight for the Bight’, however the federal government has confirmed the door remains open to oil company Equinor to go ahead with its plan.

On Thursday the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) confirmed it was seeking to “clarify matters raised in the plan” put forward by the state-owned Norwegian company, adding there were concerns over “information gaps”.

The authority would not provide details on which aspects of the drilling proposal had raised concerns. The company has two months to submit an updated plan.

Surfers have been leading protests at beaches across Australia.

It comes after Equinor attracted fierce opposition from small coastal groups and local councils, to billionaires Richard Branson and Andrew Forrest, as well as Australian sports stars and musicians.

Much of the concern was centred around the company’s disaster-mitigation strategy, which showed oil could spread across the south coast of the mainland and around Tasmania if the company’s plan goes awry.

Last month, a panel convened by the University of Sydney warned the government about the risks of the ‘overconfident’ oil plan and called on the federal government to hold the oil company to higher standards.

The submission was co-authored by University of Sydney energy and natural resources law expert Dr Madeline Taylor, along with Emeritus Professor Andrew Hopkins (Australian National University), Greg Bourne (Australian Climate Council and former president of BP Australia), and Professor Tina Soliman-Hunter (Aberdeen University Centre for Energy Law).

Full story here