Greenpeace says Norway’s rebranded oil giant Equinor, formally Statoil, is requesting an extension on its Great Australian Bight drilling proposal.
Equinor has reportedly confirmed it had applied to extend the timeline for its Bight well for another season until April 2020.
Equinor’s drilling had originally been planned for later this year before being put off until early next year.
The dispute jars with the references to Statoil‘s environmental mission when it changed its name this month.
The company said “Equinor” combined “equ”, like in equal, equality and equilibrium, with “nor”, in reference to its Norwegian origins.
“The world is changing, and so is Statoil. The biggest transition our modern-day energy systems have ever seen is underway, and we aim to be at the forefront of this development. Our strategy remains firm. The name Equinor reflects ongoing changes and supports the always safe, high value and low-carbon strategy we outlined last year,” said Statoil board chair Jon Erik Reinhardsen.
But the request for an Australian extension proved it was impossible to drill safely in the extreme environment, said Greenpeace. The environmental group is calling on Canberra to reject the extension request and cancel the permit.
Because of the depth at the proposed Stromlo-1 well site, a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) rig is apparently needed.
“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 a too high risk for even a deep-water frontier driller like Equinor,” said Greenpeace campaigner Nathaniel Pelle in Oslo.
“Equinor and its former joint venture partner BP spent years developing their Bight environment plans and neither have been able to produce a safe proposal because it’s a fairytale.
“The stakes for the communities and industries that rely on this unparalleled ocean environment are far too high to wager on this fantasy.”
Greenpeace alleged that Equinor’s chief executive was forced to acknowledge community concerns when Kangaroo Island’s mayor Peter Clements attended the name-changing AGM last week.
Kokatha nation elder Sue Haseldine called on the oil giant to cancel drilling in the Great Australian Bight.
Greenpeace’s Pelle said: “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 at 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.”
Despite renewable projects, Equinor is heavily tied to fossil fuels. Picture credit: YouTube