Equinor’s plan to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight would be illegal in Norway

SYDNEY, April 24, 2019 - On the same day that Equinor’s poor safety record was exposed, the Norwegian oil giant has chosen to submit a plan to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight - a proposal that would be illegal in Norway. [1]

Earlier today the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) received an environment plan submission from Equinor for its proposed drilling, after a 30-day period of public consultation. Equinor dismissed most of the 31,000 comments it received during that period, refusing to consider 97 percent of received submissions because they did not meet their criteria, and stating that only 13 comments have led to any changes to their environment plan.

Professor Tina Soliman Hunter, Director of the Centre for Energy Law at the University of Aberdeen, who last week published a scathing report on Equinor’s proposal to drill the Bight, has described the proposal as, “exceptional in terms of the risk of a drilling accident occurring, and the difficulties in responding to an incident”.

“Equinor’s proposal for response measures in the case of a loss of well control in the Great Australian Bight wouldn’t be permitted by the Norwegian regulator”, Professor Hunter said.

report published today by Greenpeace Australia Pacific, has revealed that in the last three and a half years, Equinor has had more than 50 safety incidents – including 10 that resulted in chemical, oil or gas leaks.

“I do not have confidence in Equinor’s plan nor NOPSEMA’s capacity to prevent a well blowout in the Great Australian Bight,” Professor Soliman Hunter said.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner, Nathaniel Pelle said, “if the only way Equinor can make drilling in the Bight commercially viable is by cutting corners on safety measures and proposing a plan that would be illegal in Norway, they should give up now.”

“Australians will not accept being treated as substandard and the regulator, NOPSEMA, should reject the proposal out of hand,” Mr Pelle said.

“Equinor’s own modelling shows that a worst case scenario oil spill on the Bight wouldn’t just risk the pristine beauty of the Great Ocean Road, the Twelve Apostles, and Kangaroo Island, it could see oil wash up on Bondi Beach – yet Equinor has no clean up plan for any location.”

“Seven out of ten South Australians are opposed to Bight drilling, as are more than sixty percent across the nation according to a recent poll – there is no way that Equinor will have have the support of the community for this risky project.”

Three of the four major international oil spills from well blowouts in recent years occurred in exploration wells, which is what Equinor plans to drill in the Great Australian Bight.

“Australia is presently the only mature jurisdiction that does not require well inspections during construction and does not require the use of appropriate standards for oil well control in that environ.The Great Australian Bight is also a very remote and extreme physical environment for drilling,” Professor Soliman Hunter said.


[1] Norwegian law requires the capability to commence relief well drilling within 12 days – s4.8.2 of NORSOK D-010

Professor Tina Hunter’s report and media pack is available for download here:https://www.dropbox.com/sh/dnxlmms4kp1e8wj/AADfrnil1v4Q04ibyh7CsYyna?dl=0

High-resolution images are available to download here:


B-roll here:


The Equinor Incident Report, including a full media pack, the data and an executive summary is available for download here:


For interviews:

Martin Zavan, Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications Campaigner

0424 295 422  | [email protected]