Norwegian oil giant Equinor has announced that it has decided to scrap the $200m project to deepwater drill in the Great Australian Bight Marine Park, saying it is not commercially competitive.
Equinor is the third major oil company to back out of exploration acreage in the Great Australian Bight following Chevron Corp, BP Plc and Karoon Energy Ltd.
A statement released by the firm’s Australian Manager, Jone Stangeland says: “Following a holistic review of its exploration portfolio, Equinor has concluded that the project’s potential is not commercially competitive compared with other exploration opportunities in the company.’’
Equinor’s announcement comes shortly after the proposed Stromlo-1 well site, in water more than 2.2km deep and nearly 400km off the South Australian coast, was granted environmental approval by the federal offshore petroleum regulator.
The Wilderness Society launched legal action challenging the decision last month, arguing opponents had not been properly consulted which was supported by tens of thousands of people opposed to fossil fuel extraction in a marine wilderness area.
In December, the company passed the second of four regulatory hurdles before it could start drilling getting the environmental approval of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA). Equinor was granted a petroleum title over areas in the Bight in 2011.
The company described the decision as an important milestone that followed more than 400 meetings with community and other organizations where environmentalists, local councils, elders of the traditional owners of the Bight, the Mirning people, denied they had been properly consulted and vowed to continue to fight the project.
Stangeland said Equinor still held an offshore exploration permit in Western Australia and would maintain “other ongoing interests and activities in Australia”.