Canberra (dpa) - The Norwegian oil company Equinor gives up controversial offshore production plans off the south coast of Australia after protests by environmentalists.
This makes the state-owned company the third oil giant after BP and Chevron to refrain from drilling for oil in the area within a few years. Equinor's decision on Tuesday was based on the fact that the potential of the project was “not commercially competitive”. After years of legal disputes and several environmental studies, a conditional approval was only granted in December.
The area designated for drilling, the Great Australian Bay, is known for its biodiversity and is also considered a breeding ground for whales. Environmentalists and politicians who viewed the Norwegian oil giant's project as a threat to wildlife and the climate and warned of possible oil spills welcomed Equinor's withdrawal. Australia's Greenpeace chief David Ritter spoke of a “victory for the environment” and demanded that drilling in the area be completely prohibited.
Australia's Minister of Resources and Water, Keith Pitt, was disappointed with the decision and encouraged other companies to explore oil and gas fields there. "The Liberal and National government continues to work to promote the safe development of Australia's offshore oil resources," he said. Companies such as Santos (Australia) and Murphy Oil (USA) continue to plan drilling.
The 2018 study by a consultancy firm concluded that oil drilling in the Great Australian Bay could create around 2,000 jobs and generate around 4.3 billion euros in annual tax revenue. Oil is a fossil fuel, the consumption of which emits gases that are harmful to the climate and contribute to global warming.
Message from Equinor
Communication from Greenpeace
Message from Keith Pitt
Communication from APPEA