Equinor Consults on Great Oz Bight Project
Norwegian producer Equinor published for consultation February 19 its environmental management plans for proposed drilling in the Great Australian Bight – a region off southern Australia that other companies left in the low-oi-price era of 2016-17.
The 1,500-page draft environment plan (EP) will be finalised after feedback from the community. It marks the first time an EP for offshore exploratory drilling has been published in full, according to upstream lobby group Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (Appea).
“The prospects of a successful development offshore South Australia could bring significant economic and energy benefits for the state and the nation,” Appea said.
A report commissioned by Appea last year found successful oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight could create more than 2,000 jobs in South Australia and generate over A$7bn ($5bn) in average annual tax revenue to federal and state governments over the next four decades.
Any industry activity in the Great Australian Bight would only proceed under the highest environmental standards, after wide community consultation and close scrutiny by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (Nopsema), it said.
“The industry will continue to work with local stakeholders and the wider community to build understanding of the benefits and impacts of offshore petroleum activity to South Australians,” Appea said.
BP withdrew its own environmental impact study for the region in late 2016, after Nopsema requested further information on key areas relevant to the environmental management of the proposed drilling. The regulator stated that “further information on these key areas was not provided prior to the withdrawal notification being issued by BP, and no further assessment of the environment plan submissions will be undertaken by Nopsema.” BP said the project was no longer competitive compared with other assets n its portfolio.
In an asset swap agreement with BP, Equinor took on EPP 39 and EPP40 and was granted a suspension and extension of the work commitments for those licences. The approved extension includes the drilling of one exploration well in EPP39 before 30 October 2019.