Port Lincoln hears safety assurance from Equinor

Equinor says it will only proceed with drilling activity in the Great Australian Bight if it is deemed safe to do so and continues to assess the potential of the area.

Company representatives met with community groups, including aquaculture, sport and local government, when they visited Port Lincoln on June 27.

Equinor country manager for Australia Jacques-Etienne Michel said the main message shared was that the company would only do its drilling activity if it knows it could do it safely and with approval from the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority.

He said the company was in the early stages of assessing the area’s potential and planned to increase its understanding of the geology by drilling one exploration well, which was expected to be complete in less than 60 days.

“By the time we drill, we will have spent more than two years planning this project to satisfy ourselves that we can operate safely and in accordance with Australia’s strict environmental and regulatory requirements,” he said.

“Globally we have drilled more than 65 deep water wells safely, as the world’s leading deep-water operator we will draw on more than 45 years of experience successfully working in similar offshore environments.”

Mr Michel said when the draft environmental plan was completed it would be published for four weeks, during which time the community was invited to submit comments to the authority for the company’s consideration.

Port Lincoln mayor Bruce Green said the discussions were friendly and professional and Equinor seemed keen to understand the community’s views.

Councillor Andrea Broadfoot said while Equinor were clear about the importance of social licence to operate but while historical information was presented, there were no real insights or impacts on this particular project.

She said it was still clear as far as local industries were concerned at the “risks to us is still too great”.