WIN! Equinor Abandons Plans to Drill in Great Australian Bight

Jason Lock

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Updated 36d ago

This is it. The fight for the Bight has been won. Norwegian firm Equinor has abandoned plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Blight, claiming that actually, it didn't make commercial sense to do so.

The news yesterday comes after a solid year of campaigns from thousands of ocean-goers in both Australia and Norway, who have continually ladelled pressure on Equinor since the company announced its $200 million plans to drill in the bight. It is a victory for campaigners across the globe and if you're a surfer, this is likely to resonate with you.

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“On behalf of Patagonia I’d like to thank everyone all around the country who paddled out, spoke up, showed up, wrote submissions and played a part in saving the Great Australian Bight for future generations. The Fight for the Bight has been our line in the sand. The people of the Australian coast have made it clear they won’t stand for inappropriate, profit-driven developments that risk our coastlines and their ecosystems. We’ve made it clear we want a better way forward than simply digging up more fossil fuel reserves. We’ve made it clear we’re going to fight for a liveable future for our kids. I want to thank our partners in the campaign @greataustralianbightalliance and a special thanks to the crew down in the Bight – the traditional owners, the surfers, the fishermen and everyone down there who’s fought to keep the Bight wild and free.” ⁠ – Sean Doherty⁠ ⁠ #FightForTheBight #BigOilDontSurf⁠ ⁠ Photo: @sa_rips

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"It’s been a while coming, but the right decision is the right decision, and we have no doubt that the hundreds of thousands of people that have supported the campaign to fight for the Bight will be both delighted and relieved to hear this news,” said Peter Owen, the Wilderness Society’s South Australian director who has been amongst those campaigning to protect the Bight.

Equinor had been granted a petroleum title over areas in the Bight in 2011, says the Guardian. In December, it cleared the second of four regulatory hurdles it needed to pass before it could start drilling, when the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority, known as Nopsema, granted its environmental approval.

Patagonia's Aus branch has been heavily involved in the campaign to save the Bight. "Equinor has just publicly announced they will discontinue their plan to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight," they posted via Instagram. "This news comes after the people of Australia fiercely opposed their plan and The Wilderness Society took legal action to challenge NOPSEMA’s approval of Equinor's environmental plan. ⁠

"This is a huge win for not only the people of the Australian coast, but the wildlife and the ecosystems of the Bight. Without the support of the passionate people and environmental groups that supported the protection of our coastline, this news would not be a reality. ⁠

"A huge thanks goes out to everybody who paddled out right around the country, to everybody who spoke up and showed up, and to all the legends down in the Bight who have been fighting for years to keep their coastline wild and free."

Cover shot: Che Chorley