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Is there oil in the Great Australian Bight? Possibly. Can we find out safely? Absolutely.

We’ve listened and learned. We know how much the Great Australian Bight matters to you. It could also be one of Australia’s largest untapped oil reserves. We have submitted our Environment Plan to NOPSEMA, showing how we can explore safely the Bight, and it is currently being assessed.

On June 27, 2019, NOPSEMA requested additional information on our Environment Plan. On September 18, Equinor provided further information, and in accordance with the Environment Regulations, NOPSEMA has now resumed its assessment of our environment plan.

Information about Equinor in Australia

What experience do we bring to the Great Australian Bight?

Our country manager for Australia, Jone Stangeland, talks about how we achieve safe operations. “You invest time and money; you invest in people and technology. You invest in learning from people with local knowledge. And you invest in transparency,” he says. 

Here’s our Environment Plan.

We voluntarily published our draft Environment Plan (EP) for the Stromlo-1 Exploration Drilling Program in February 2019, and then reviewed all relevant submissions that were received during the 30-day public comment period. Our updated EP was submitted to NOPSEMA in April.

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Our EP in brief 

A guide to our Environment Plan for the Stromlo-1 Exploration Drilling Program.

The full EP is 1,500 pages long and took two years to prepare, with extensive dialogue and engagement with stakeholders shaping its development. To facilitate understanding of the EP, we have prepared this brief guide, available for download below.

FAQs: Questions and answers

What is the truth about the oil spill map? Why did NOPSEMA request additional information? And will there be a capping stack in place? Read the answers to these and other important questions.

Can we drill safely in the Great Australian Bight?

Camilla Aamodt, our exploration manager for Australia, talks about her Norwegian background and how we’re drawing on decades of experience of safe and responsible operations in her home country.

How it works: the technology used for exploration

We’ve spent years preparing to explore here in Australia, including researching the conditions in the Bight. Here we explain the advanced and reliable technology that we use in modern-day exploration.

Fact sheets

Public comment period and assessment by NOPSEMA

When the 30-day public comment period closed in March, we reviewed all relevant comments received before updating our Environment Plan and submitting it to the regulator in April. On June 27, NOPSEMA requested more information, and we provided it to them on 18 September. NOPSEMA has now resumed its assessment of our environment plan.

Where do we plan to drill?

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Our proposed well, Stromlo-1, is in licence area EPP 39, which is 372 km south of the closest southern coastline and 476 km west of Port Lincoln. Many people don’t realise there have already been 13 wells drilled in the Great Australian Bight.

Consultation and engagement with the public

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Photo: Getty Images

We have held over 130 meetings with groups and organisations throughout South Australia to listen and learn about local issues and inform about our plans, and we continue to hold meetings with groups who express an interest in meeting us. In connection with the launch of our draft EP, we held several drop-in meetings to allow members of the public to meet our team and ask questions.

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What’s in it for South Australia?

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Photo: City of Adelaide.

We are early in the exploration phase and we do not know if there is oil or gas present. Our planned drilling activity is short and so there are limited opportunities for contractors at this early stage. 

The best way to understand the potential benefits is to look at places where big discoveries have been developed. The Bass Strait oilfields near Melbourne and the North-West Shelf in Western Australia are two good Australian examples.

Norway is another good example where oil and gas projects have yielded great benefits for the wider community. It is important to recognise that other industries including fishing and tourism continue to flourish in Victoria, Western Australia and Norway alongside, and much closer to, oil and gas developments.     

Australia and the future of energy 
Energy is at the root of all aspects of modern society: heating, transportation, housing, lighting, food, health, education, resources for industry. In other words, the world needs energy.

Our aim is to convert natural resources into energy for people and progress for society — and in the next 20–30 years, hydrocarbons will remain a necessary part of the solution, alongside increased renewable energy investments.

Irrespective of which scenario you choose to believe in, it is predicted there will be a significant gap between the supply and demand of energy by 2040. Today’s best projections tell us our demand for energy will exceed the supply available from planned and existing fields, and production is dwindling.

That’s why it is essential to continue to explore for oil and gas — and it is an advantage to do so in countries that have strict environmental and safety requirements.

Australia is one of the largest exporters of LNG in the world, but oil production has been in decline since its peak in 2000. At the same time, Australia has a growing need for oil-based products. In 2016-17, Australia imported approximately $24 billion of crude oil, condensate and refined products, compared to exports of only $5.6 billion in equivalent products.  

Although we are investing in renewables, we know that the world will continue to use oil in the coming decades. The reality is that existing reserves will not be able to meet future demand. 

We allocate a great deal of time and resources to forecasting the future of energy and publish our findings. We encourage you to read our Energy Perspectives report to understand why we need to explore for oil.  Click here to read our Energy Perspectives report. 

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association

Authorities and organisations

With great opportunity comes great responsibility

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Photo: Trond Isaksen - Equinor

Why explore the Great Australian Bight at all? Many people are asking this question. It’s a question of weighing controlled risk against opportunity. 

Equinor is committed to balancing these concerns in a responsible way. We recognise that there are different views on exploring the Ceduna sub-basin and it is our role to share information on our project and engage closely with communities.  

Risk management 
Managing risk is the most important part of our business. Equinor’s track record shows our ability to operate safely and we only undertake activities if they can be done safely. 

Although we are confident in our ability to prevent incidents, we always develop emergency response plans to be able to minimise the harm to people and environment in the unlikely event that an incident occurs. We have prepared detailed emergency response plans as part of our Environmental Plan. 

General enquiries to Equinor Australia can be submitted here. Please note that the public comment period for our environment plan closed in March.