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Big Oil loses another round in Bight fight

Written by: Nick G. on 25 February 2020


In a stunning victory for community organisations in South Australia, Norwegian giant Equinor today announced it had scrapped plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight.

The announcement, allegedly made on “commercial grounds”, comes just two months after the toothless regulator National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) granted Equinor approval for exploratory drilling in the Bight.

Equinor becomes the fourth big oil company to be forced from the pristine waters of the Bight.  The US Chevron Corporation went, the British BP went (Equinor took over their leases), Australian Kaorron Gas went (they have shifted their activities to Peru and Brazil) and now Norway’s Equinor has gone.

Wilderness Society SA Director Peter Owen said “People power is showing that business and government can’t keep going on this same path—not when it comes to the climate crisis and not when it comes to nature protection.”

He praised the community organisations, Traditional Owners, and 20 local government councils representing 600,000 South Australians for taking action against oil exploration in the Bight.  “Hands Across the Sands” beach rallies, surfing protests and Sea Shepherd’s Operation Jeedara  , involving its flagship M/V Steve Irwin, were important components as was the visit by Owen and Mirning elder and whale songman Bunna Lawrie, to the Equinor AGM in May 2019.

While the departure of Equinor from exploration leases EPP 39 and 40 removes a major threat to the Bight, there are still exploration tenement holders including Canada’s Bight Petroleum (EPP 41 and 42), the US Murphy Oil Corporation (EPP 43) and Santos in partnership with Japanese JX Nippon Oil and Gas on the Western Australian side of the Bight.

Our Party Program states: “The only two sources of wealth are human labour power and nature. Capitalism attacks, devalues and destroys both. In the early stages of the 21st century, the damage to the environment as a result of capitalist plunder has reached potentially catastrophic proportions for humanity and the planet. Over ninety percent of the world’s climate scientists agree that human induced climate change and global warming are approaching the point of no return.”

To that end we have called for transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables and phasing out the export of resources that contribute to global warming.

We will continue to support the fight for the Bight until the last of the tenement holders has gone.


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