New Equinor oil spill and safety incident points to danger for the Bight

SYDNEY, Dec 4, 2019 - Just days after Australia's National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) received Norwegian company Equinor’s third draft environmental plan for deep-sea oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight - news has emerged of a fresh oil leak and explosion in the company’s European operations.

Norway’s safety watchdog has launched investigations into the new incidents, which include an oil spill in the Statfjord oil field on the U.K.-Norwegian boundary of the North Sea that saw up to 500 barrels of oil leaked into the sea, and an explosion at Heimdal, a gas field west of Sveio in Hordaland county, in the northern part of the North Sea. 

“These latest incidents show that Equinor simply can’t be trusted to operate in the pristine waters of Australia’s Great Australian Bight without risk of serious incidents that could coat Australia’s much-loved beaches in black oil,” said Jamie Hanson, Greenpeace Australia Pacific Head of Campaigns.

These latest incidents come off the back of Greenpeace research revealing that over the past twelve months Equinor has overseen a doubling in serious safety incident rates including fires, oil spills, gas leaks and near-fatal equipment failures.

“Equinor’s record points to a trend of endangering its workers, and risking profound damage to the environment. How could Australians have any confidence in Equinor when reports from its overseas operations point to a culture of negligence and devastating accidents?”

“With regard to Equinor’s proposed deep-sea oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight – given the Bight’s remoteness and the complete lack of any safety infrastructure for thousands of kilometres, what’s really terrifying is how much worse these kinds of safety breaches and environmentally damaging incidents could be if they occur in Equinor’s proposed Australian operations.”

“NOPSEMA has set the date for its decision on Equinor’s resubmitted environmental plans for December 30. Given these new incidents and the company’s appalling safety record overseas, NOPSEMA should refuse to give Equinor any license to threaten Australia’s unique wildlife and coastal communities,” said Mr Hanson.


Read Greenpeace’s Equinor incident report here


Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications Campaigner, James Norman


[email protected]