Equinor hosts information session on Kangaroo Island

Norwegian oil and gas company Equinor held an information session at Kingscote on Monday afternoon about its proposed test well in the Bight.

The day before on Sunday an estimated 1500 attended a protest at Victor Harbor against Equinor's plan. The protest included a paddle out onto the ocean.

Back at Kingscote, Equinor says about 20 members of the general public attended the drop-in session at the Aurora Ozone Hotel. 

The company brought along various managers and a marine biologist, as well as environmental scientist consultants and a representative from the Australian Marine Oil Spill Centre. 

Asking questions were local teens Mia, 13, and Tim, 10, and their mother Silke Krause, who wanted to know more about the impact of the drilling on whales and other marine life.

Earlier in the afternoon, special time was made for both the KI Council councillors and staff, and then also KI/VH Dolphin Watch representatives.

An Equinor spokesperson said a range of topics were raised in relation to the proposed drilling operation's Environment Plan.

"People were also interested to hear more about the approval process. We are holding information sessions to specifically address the community’s questions about the contents of our draft Environment Plan (EP), which is open to public comment until March 20."

"Our goal is to submit the most comprehensive, evidence based Environment Plan to the regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA). These public sessions are helping us further understand what is important to the local community and continue to inform our EP as we prepare for submission."

Equinor will now host similar sessions in Ceduna, Streaky Bay and Port Lincoln:

  • Ceduna Foreshore Hotel, 32 O’Loughlin Terrace, Wednesday, March 6, 4pm – 7.30pm
  • Streaky Bay Hotel, 33 Alfred Terrace, Thursday, March 7, 9.30am – 11.30am
  • Port Lincoln, Nautilus Arts Centre, 66 Tasman Terrace, Friday, March 8, anytime between 4pm – 7.30pm
VICTOR PROTEST: About 1500 people turned up at the paddle event at Victor Harbor protesting proposed oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight. Photo: Wilderness Society

VICTOR PROTEST: About 1500 people turned up at the paddle event at Victor Harbor protesting proposed oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight. Photo: Wilderness Society

Drilling protest

Thousands of people joined paddle outs off Australia’s coast on Sunday to call on Norwegian oil giant Equinor to drop its ultra-deepwater oil-drilling plans for the Great Australian Bight.

Events were held around the country, including in Perth, Sydney’s iconic Manly Beach, Byron Bay and Wollongong in NSW, Torquay and Warrnambool in Victoria, and Alexandra Headland on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

About 1500 turned up at the South Australian event at Victor Harbor alone, including Mirning elder and whale song man Bunna Lawrie.

“My ancestors and I have looked after the whale, the land and the sea for 50,000 years," Mr Lawrie said. "We don’t want oil and gas companies in our sea and our place of the whales. We don’t want pollution causing destruction and poisoning our sea and land. I cannot allow oil and gas companies to drill in the Great Australian Bight. As a Traditional Owner, I do not want my home, my tradition destroyed and lost forever."

Wilderness Society South Australia director Peter Owen said thousands of people turned up, backing 15 councils across southern Australia’s coast representing more than half a million people that have voted serious concerns and opposition to Bight oil drilling.  

“Equinor’s modelling shows that an oil spill from an ultra-deepwater well blowout in the Great Australian Bight could impact anywhere along all of southern Australia’s coast, from Esperance WA across to north of Sydney and even Tasmania," Mr Owen said.

"Former Equinor Bight partner BP’s modelling showed a spill from its proposed Stromlo-1 well could hit Adelaide in 20 days and Port Lincoln and Kangaroo Island in 15 days.

“Ultra-deepwater drilling is a relatively new, high-risk operation carried out mostly off the coast of Brazil and in the Gulf of Mexico, where it caused the world’s biggest oil spill accident, BP’s Deepwater Horizon tragedy in 2010, when 800 million litres of oil spewed into the gulf for 87 days.”

Fight for the Bight Port Fairy spokesman Ben Druitt said there was no established offshore oil and gas industry in South Australia to deal with a disaster that could hit the Victorian coast.

"More than 6800 boats were involved in the Gulf clean-up but the South Australian Oyster Growers Association says that SA and neighbouring states probably have only 20 vessels that could operate safely in the waters where Equinor plans to drill," he said.

“The Great Australian Bight is a unique, pristine wilderness marine environment, with 85 per cent of its marine species found only in these waters. Its’s a haven for 36 species of whales and dolphins, including the world’s most important nursery for the endangered southern right whale.”