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Bight oil drilling plan delayed

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International energy company Equinor has been told to hand over more information on its environmental plan for drilling in the Great Australian Bight.

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The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority has given Equinor another 60 days to submit the extra information after the authority’s assessment team found gaps in its 1500-page plan.

The Norwegian company said the request for more information was expected and it remains committed to exploring the Great Australian Bight.

“We want to emphasise this is part of the normal regulatory process,” it said in a statement.

“Based on the industry’s experience, we know NOPSEMA accepts less than 10 per cent of plans on first submission.

“Equinor has always expected to work through an iterative process of resubmission before NOPSEMA accepts the (environmental plan).”

Environmental groups have remained steadfast in their call to dump Bight drilling plans.

“Oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight is so toxic that Australia’s two major political parties committed to review Equinor’s plans,” Wilderness Society SA director Peter Owen said in a statement.

“Equinor’s oil spill modelling revealed that an oil spill from an uncontained blowout was guaranteed to impact the South Australian coast, and a spill could impact anywhere along much of southern Australia’s coast, from Western Australia right across to Australia’s east coast past Sydney and around Tasmania.”

That sentiment was echoed by Greenpeace and Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

“Chevron and Equinor have just walked away from drilling off the coast of New Zealand. Equinor must do the same here,” she said.

-AAP

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