NOPSEMA needs more time to assess Equinor’s Bight drilling plan

Australia’s offshore regulator NOPSEMA has extended its decision time-frame needed to assess Equinor’s environment plan for proposed exploration drilling in the Great Australian Bight, offshore Australia.

Great Australian Bight; Source: Flickr; Author: Mark Gillow – under the CC BY 2.0 license

On Monday, September 23 NOPSEMA advised Equinor that it is unable to make a decision on the environment plan for proposed exploration drilling in the Great Australian Bight within the 30 day assessment period, following Equinor’s submission of additional information last week.

Therefore, the next decision point is scheduled for November 14, 2019, NOPSEMA said on Monday.

The regulator explained that the extension of time is due to the complexity of the assessment.

To remind, Equinor officially submitted the environment plan for proposed exploration drilling in the Great Australian Bight to the regulator in late April 2019, which started its assessment, amid claims by environmental groups of it being too risky. Following Equinor’s submission, environmental organization Greenpeace said the plan to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight would be illegal in Norway.

In May, the regulator changed its initial deadline for making the decision on Equinor’s proposed drilling plan, postponing the decision for late June.

Come late June and NOPSEMA requested further information from Equinor on its GAB environment plan and gave the company a deadline of 60 days to submit it. During that time, NOPSEMA paused its review of the plan with plans to re-start once Equinor submits the additional information. Once this deadline expired, Equinor in August asked for more time.

Finally, Equinor provided the requested further information regarding the environment plan on September 18, 2019, and NOPSEMA resumed its assessment.

Equinor plans to spud the Stromlo-1 exploration well – situated 372 km off the coast of South Australia and 476 km west of Port Lincoln – in late 2020. The well will be drilled using a mobile offshore drilling unit and the planned duration of the drilling is approximately 60 days. The preferred drilling period is between November and February when weather conditions are more conducive to fast and efficient drilling.

Offshore Energy Today Staff


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