Santos and Murphy Oil abandon Great Australian Bight drilling plan

GONE: The Santos and Murphy Oil exploration plan for the Great Australian Bight has been abandoned. Photo: File
GONE: The Santos and Murphy Oil exploration plan for the Great Australian Bight has been abandoned. Photo: File

Santos and Murphy Oil have announced they will not pursue their exploration plan to drill in the Great Australian Bight.

The announcement on Friday meant the project has become the latest Bight oil drilling plan to be abandoned.

Santos and Murphy Oil were only in the early stages of planning and did not have a scheduled date to drill.

A Santos spokesperson said the Bight plan was not one of its core assets the company wanted to pursue.

"Santos and Murphy have surrendered EPP43 in the Great Australian Bight with good standing after completing the joint venture's work program obligations," they said.

"The Santos strategy is to build and grow around our five core long-life natural gas assets and the Great Australian Bight falls outside these assets."

Santos said it was "focussed on pursuing disciplined growth across our core assets".

"This includes our sanctioned Barossa gas project offshore the Northern Territory which will backfill our Darwin LNG project," the spokesperson said.

ABANDONED: Santos and Murphy Oil had an exploration permit at site EPP43. Photo: Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association

ABANDONED: Santos and Murphy Oil had an exploration permit at site EPP43. Photo: Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association

"In addition, our Moomba carbon capture and storage project in the Cooper Basin is planned for a final investment decision later this year and the Dorado oil and gas project offshore Western Australia and the Narrabri domestic gas project in New South Wales will both face investment decisions over the next couple of years."

Equinor's plan to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight was met with strong opposition from environmental groups and was scrapped in early 2020, joining BP in 2016, Chevron in 2017 and Karoon Gas in 2019.

The only remaining titleholder is Bight Petroleum, who had a proposed plan rejected by the federal regulator the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority in February.

Greenpeace said in a statement the announcement was a win for people and the planet.

"This is an incredible win for all of those who relentlessly campaigned for years to protect the Great Australian Bight from offshore drilling," chief executive officer of Greenpeace Australia Pacific David Ritter said.

"So many determined Australians worked incredibly hard to kick big oil companies out of our precious Bight, including coastal communities, Indigenous traditional owners, surfers, the seafood industry, tourism operators and other local businesses."

This story Santos and Murphy Oil abandon Great Australian Bight drilling plan first appeared on The Times.

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