Equinor’s environment plan out for public comment

Equinor released its draft environment plan for the proposed Stromlo-1 exploration drilling program in the Great Australian Bight on February 19, and it is now open for public consultation.

Equinor released its draft environment plan for its proposed Stromlo-1 exploration drilling program, located about 400 kilometres south west of Ceduna.

This is the first time a draft environmental plan for an offshore exploration well has been published before submission and assessment by the regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).

Equinor country manager Jone Stangeland said for a period of 30 days public comments to the draft plan could be submitted directly to NOPSEMA.

“We have made the draft EP available to members of the community and we will take all comments into consideration before updating our EP and submitting it to the independent regulator,” he said.

“This draft EP is the result of more than two years of careful preparation and our 1500-page plan demonstrates how we can drill safely and includes a robust emergency response plan.”

Mr Stangeland said the plan detailed all relevant risks and plans to minimise those risks, and was the result of more than two years of preparation.

This includes a plan to deploy a capping stack in 15 days in the unlikely event of an oil spill.

Oysters Australia chairman Bruce Zippel said NOPSEMA’s final decision should be respected.

“If NOPSEMA...sets an extensive range of controls and conditions and then backs that up with thorough and diligent compliance, then I am happy to accept and support oil being explored for in the Great Australian Bight,” he said.

He said there should balance between environmental, social and economic needs, with NOPSEMA best placed to decide.

Equinor exploration manager Camilla Aamodt talks about the company's environment plan. Video courtesy of Equinor

Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association chief executive officer Brian Jeffriess said he believed other seafood sectors, including abalone and rock lobster would make submissions expressing their concerns.

He said NOPSEMA needed to look at the large scale development that would come if the exploration well was successful and the increased risk that would come from it.

“They have to look at this and say ‘would we approve 10 to 15 operating wells in the Great Australian Bight, and the risk that entails?,” he said.

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association has applauded the release of the draft plan as it was an important step towards understanding the Bight’s resource potential.

Association South Australia director Matthew Doman said it was important that oil exploration resume in the Bight to understand the scale of the resources and whether commercial development was possible.

“The prospects of a successful development offshore South Australia could bring significant economic and energy benefits for the state and the nation,” he said.

Environmental activist group Greenpeace has again spoken out against Equinor taking another step towards experimental drilling in the Great Australian Bight.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner Nathaniel Pelle said the Bight was Australia’s whale nursery and populated with possibly the highest dolphin concentration in the world.

“Drilling in the Great Australian Bight, with its extreme depth and violent oceans, is dangerous and irresponsible,” he said.

This story Equinor releases draft environment plan first appeared on West Coast Sentinel.