Norwegian Oil Company Equinor Pulls Plans to Drill in the Great Australian Bight

Bight Protest Ed Sloane 3
Photo: Courtesy of Ed Sloane/SURFER Magazine

For the past year, Australian surfers and environmental activists have been locked in a battle with Equinor, a Norwegian oil company that held plans to drill in the Great Australian Bight. But as of this morning, thanks to the thousands of tireless souls who have been fighting to protect their country’s coastline from a potentially devastating operation, that battle has come to an end for now. According to ABC News, Equinor has officially cancelled all plans to drill in the Great Australian Bight.

If you’ve been following the storyline around the Fight for the Bight, you’re likely aware of Equinor’s seemingly terrible plans to conduct a deep-sea drilling operation in the Bight—a stretch of beautiful, pristine ocean located off the coast of South Australia. The company’s spill models showed oil hitting most of the country’s surfable coastline in the event of a worst-case scenario—which would have had catastrophic effects on marine life and local wildlife industries.

Since the plan was made public, the Australian surf community has done everything in their power to protest the planned drilling, including putting pressure on the Australian government, organizing massive paddle-outs and submitting informed public comments to NOPSEMA (National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority, the industry regulator in Australia). In November of last year, thousands of ocean-goers gathered all along Australia’s coastline to make their voices heard, the images from which went viral around the world on social media.

Back in December, NOPSEMA had given Equinor the approval to drill an exploratory oil well 372 kilometers south of the Nullarbor coastline, which, according to ABC, would have allowed the company to drill 24 hours a day for about 60 days between November and April in the coming year. The announcement came as a huge punch to the gut of those who fought tirelessly against the oil company.

But as of this morning, Australians woke to the news that the company has decided to abandon their plans, stating that the operation was “not commercially competitive” compared with other exploration opportunities. Equinor still holds an exploration permit off the coast of Western Australia and activists will likely continue their efforts to push the oil giant out of their waters completely. But for now, surfers who have been on the frontlines of this fight are relieved to hear that their collective rallying has paid off.

“So proud of our community for standing up against big oil,” says pro longboard stylist and activist Belinda Baggs. “Today is a day to celebrate a victory for the sea animals and pristine shores of our southern ocean. Thanks @equinor for coming to your senses.”

“Best Tuesday news I’ve had in a long time,” wrote journalist (and our personal ‘CT correspondent) Sean Doherty. “They’ll try and save face and say it was the economics and the oil price, but the real reason is what you see right here. For every single person who paddled out around the country, and for all you legends down there in the Bight who’ve been fighting this for years, take a moment to fully appreciate what you’ve done. By paddling out and speaking up and fighting this colossally stupid idea, you’ve kept the Bight wild and free and saved it for future generations. Couldn’t be more proud of you mob.”

 

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This article originally appeared on Surfer.com and was republished with permission.

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