Equinor requests extension for Bight drilling: Greenpeace

FLOATING RIG: A floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) unit similar to what is being proposed for use in the Great Australian Bight by Statoil-Equinor. Source: Greenpeace
FLOATING RIG: A floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) unit similar to what is being proposed for use in the Great Australian Bight by Statoil-Equinor. Source: Greenpeace

Greenpeace says Norwegian oil giant Equinor, formally Statoil, is requesting an extension on its Great Australian Bight drilling proposal.

Equinor has confirmed to Greenpeace that is has applied to extend the timeline for its Bight well for a further season to April 2020.  Equinor’s drilling had originally been planned for late 2018 before being put off until early 2019.

The request for an extension is further proof it is impossible for fossil fuel companies to operate in this extreme environment safely, according to Greenpeace, who is calling on the Australian Government to reject the request and cancel the company’s permit.

Because of the extreme depths at the proposed Stromlo-1 well site, a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) unit would have to be used.

“There’s no way to drill safely in the Great Australian Bight, and this request for an extension of their timeline shows that Bight drilling is too high risk for even a deep-water frontier driller like Equinor,” said Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner, Nathaniel Pelle, from Oslo.

“Equinor and its former joint venture partner BP spent years developing their Bight Environment Plans and neither have been unable to produce a safe proposal because it’s a fairy tale.

“The stakes for the communities and industries that rely on this unparalleled ocean environment are far too high to wager on this fantasy.”

Greenpeace says Equinor’s CEO was forced to acknowledge community concerns with its drilling plans when Kangaroo Island mayor, Peter Clements, attended the company’s AGM last week.

Mr Clements read the board an open letter from Kokatha nation elder Sue Haseldine and leader of the Norwegian Saami Association, Beaska Niillas asking Statoil to cancel their planned drilling activity in the Great Australian Bight.  

“First Nations leaders, fishermen, tourism operators, and the mayors of eight coastal towns with coastlines along the Great Australian Bight have sent Equinor the message that their oil rigs are not welcome and they will never gain a social license to drill,” Mr Pelle said.

“High cost, high risk frontier operations like the Great Australian Bight have no place in 2018 as the end of the oil age draws closer.

“Equinor should follow the lead of BP and Chevron and walk away from its Bight plans altogether.

“If it does not, the Australian Government should reject the request and cancel the company’s permit.”

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