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Equinor request to extend Bight deadline proves safe drilling is a fairy tale

Norwegian oil giant Equinor’s request for an extension on its Great Australian Bight drilling is further proof it is impossible for fossil fuel companies to operate in this extreme environment safely. Greenpeace is calling on the Australian Government to reject the request and cancel the company’s permit.

“There’s no way to drill safely in the Great Australian Bight, and this request for an extension of their timeline shows that Bight drilling is too high risk for even a deepwater frontier driller like Equinor,” said Greenpeace Australia Pacific Senior Campaigner, Nathaniel Pelle, from Oslo.

Equinor has confirmed that is has applied to extend the timeline for its Bight well for a further season to April 2020. Equinor’s drilling had originally been planned for late 2018 before being put off until early 2019.

“Equinor and its former joint venture partner BP spent years developing their Bight Environment Plans and neither have been unable to produce a safe proposal because it’s a fairy tale. The stakes for the communities and industries that rely on this unparalleled ocean environment are far too high to wager on this fantasy.”

Equinor’s CEO was forced to acknowledge community concerns with its drilling plans when Kangaroo Island Mayor, Peter Clements, attended the company’s AGM last week to read the board an open letter from Kokatha nation elder Sue Haseldine and Leader of the Norwegian Saami Association, Beaska Niillas asking Statoil to cancel their planned drilling activity in the Great Australian Bight.

“First Nations leaders, fishermen, tourism operators, and the mayors of eight coastal towns with coastlines along the Great Australian Bight have sent Equinor the message that their oil rigs are not welcome and they will never gain a social license to drill.”

“High cost, high risk frontier operations like the Great Australian Bight have no place in 2018 as the end of the oil age draws closer. Equinor should follow the lead of BP and Chevron and walk away from its Bight plans altogether. If it does not, the Australian Government should reject the request and cancel the company’s permit.”