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Bight tests on ice as groups wait for Equinor decision

Source: The Advertiser


THE controversial search for new oil and gas deposits in the Great Australian Bight will not go ahead next month after investors pulled funding from the seismic-testing project.

It comes as Equinor, which was due to provide more information about its environment plan, has been granted a further extension by the federal regulator.

Testing company PGS was in January granted exploration approval from the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) in the waters near Kangaroo Island. It was forced to push back these operations from March to September.

But a PGS spokesman exclusively told The Advertiser that seismic testing had been put on hold and would not occur next month.

“We don’t have plans to acquire seismic in The Bight this year,” he said. “The companies funding the acquisition have deferred until next year.”

Seismic testing involves injecting large air bubbles into water behind a test ship to record sounds as they bounce back from the ocean floor to detect oil and gas deposits.

Equinor was due to provide more information about its environment plan to NOPSEMA by August 26, but was this month granted an extension until September 27. Equinor’s head of corporate communications, Reidar Gjaerum, will visit South Australia next week. He will meet with the Wilderness Society and tour Ceduna, where Equinor would have its helipad and land-based operations if its drilling plans progress.

Wilderness Society SA director Peter Owen also welcomed the delay.

“Seismic testing has a considerable impact on the marine environment and the Great Australian Bight is a completely inappropriate place for this activity,” Mr Owen said.

“We call on PGS to withdraw their plans for seismic testing … permanently.”

Full story p2 Adelaide Advertiser, Wed 21st August