Equinor rejected after failing to plug gaps in safety plan to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight

SYDNEY, Nov 11 2019 - Norwegian oil company Equinor has had its proposal to drill in the Great Australian Bight rejected for a second time, after again failing to convince the safety regulator it can drill without putting the entire southern coast of Australia at risk of a catastrophic oil spill.

Earlier today the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) requested Equinor revise its environment plan, which was again judged to have fallen short of required safety standards. The regulator highlighted shortcomings across all major aspects of Equinor’s plan including preventing an accident, oil spill risk, consulting relevant persons and managing threats to the Bight’s unique marine life. 

“This is the second time that NOPSEMA has asked Equinor to fill in the gaps in its drilling plan despite the company having more than two years and several attempts to get it right. BP was rejected multiple times, then it gave up its plans to drill the Great Australian Bight. Equinor should do the same,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific Senior Campaigner Nathaniel Pelle said. 

“There is no safe way to drill in the Great Australian Bight but Equinor chose to cut corners to save money and presented a plan that wouldn’t even meet basic safety standards back in Norway. It cut corners despite its own modelling showing an oil spill could reach towns and beaches anywhere from Western Australia to Port Macquarie. That Equinor is pursuing risky projects like this during a climate crisis – even as they lower safety standards – is an embarrassment.  

Equinor will never have a safe plan because drilling in the Bight is exceptionally dangerous and any oil they find is unburnable if we are to limit global warming in line with the Paris Agreement.

Equinor had two years to come up with a plan but instead of genuinely engaging with legitimate stakeholders like First Nations, coastal seafood industries and conservation groups, but they refused to consult them, labelling their concerns irrelevant. 

“The communities of the Bight, traditional owners and the thousands of people in the seafood and tourism industries whose livelihoods depend on healthy oceans will never accept oil drilling in the Bight – opposition today is greater than ever. Equinor’s senior management needs to accept this reality and abandon its reckless plans for good.



Download Greenpeace’s report on Equinor’s plan to poison the Great Australian Bight with banned chemicals here


Download Greenpeace’s report that shows safety incidents on the rise ahead of Equinor’s bid to drill the Bight here


Images and videos of the Bight and its unique marine life here




Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications Campaigner, Martin Zavan

0424 295 422

[email protected]