Labor to review consequences of an oil spill in the Great Australian Bight

SYDNEY, May 8, 2019 - Greenpeace Australia Pacific has welcomed Australian Labor Party leader Bill Shorten’s commitment to review the consequences of an oil spill in the Great Australian Bight, and called on the party to go further by ruling out the project.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific senor campaigner, Nathaniel Pelle, said that a genuine review would find that the risks of this project far outweigh any potential benefits that might flow from it.

“BP and Equinor’s own studies show that an oil spill could be twice the size of the catastrophic Deep Water Horizon spill, with the potential for oil to wash up on beaches as far away as Sydney and Coffs Harbour, including Tasmania’s World Heritage-listed West Coast and Victoria’s treasured Great Ocean Road.

“Shockingly, Equinor’s environment plan contains no explanation of how it would respond to a spill reaching our shores. We already know from the experience of Deepwater Horizon, where only 4 percent of the oil was recovered, that oil spill cleanup is impossible”

“Equinor’s drill site is in a marine park in the middle of Australia’s whale nursery. The Bight features one of the world’s most important breeding grounds for endangered southern right whales and is home to more unique species than the Great Barrier Reef. The ALP should rule it out out on those grounds alone.

“Three of the four major oil spills from well blowouts in recent years have occurred in exploration wells – which is what Equinor is proposing.

“It is imperative that a review include the widest range of stakeholders, including Traditional Owners, independent experts, fishers, and local governments. We would welcome the opportunity to work with an incoming government to ensure that this study is done right.

“NOPSEMA should delay any approvals until the study is complete.”

Professor Tina Soliman Hunter, Director of the Centre for Energy Law at the University of Aberdeen, recently published a report on Equinor’s proposal to drill the Bight. She 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.
“I do not have confidence in Equinor’s plan nor NOPSEMA’s capacity to prevent a well blowout in the Great Australian Bight.”



Professor Tina Hunter’s report on the risk of an accident in the Bight is available here.

Professor Rick Steiner’s report on the consequences of a Bight oil spill is available here.

A report recently published by Greenpeace Australia Pacific 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.

Seven out of ten South Australians are opposed to Bight drilling, and more than sixty percent across the nation according to a recent poll.


For interviews

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications Campaigner, Martin Zavan,
+61 424 295 422 | [email protected]