Stab Magazine | Australian Gov. Caves To Big Oil, Providing Approval To Drill In The Bight

Australian Gov. Caves To Big Oil, Providing Approval To Drill In The Bight

Equinor lands one out of the necessary three approvals as the Fight for the Bight gets red hot. 

news // Dec 19, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The fight to save the Great Australian Bight from oil exploration just came up short. The Australian government has caved to Norwegian energy company Equinor, providing them with approval to drill and explore for oil in the Australian Bight. The site they are eyeing is approximately 2km offshore and contend they can drill without spilling a drop.

There recent track record would indicated otherwise. Equinor is currently being investigated by Norwegian authorities for a 20,000-gallon leak on their Statfjord A platform in the North Sea on November 26. There were other spills at this location in 2007, 2008 and 2015. Equinor is also in the midst of a cleanup effort in the Bahamas after 119,000 barrels was spilled during Hurricane Dorian in October. 

The permissions for oil exploration in the Bight came from Australia’s National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (Nopsema). The assessment reportedly took eight months before final approval was given. This is the second, and potentially most significant, approval needed before drilling can begin. There are two more hurdles for Equinor to overcome before it’s a done deal.

“The day after Australia’s hottest day ever, at a time Australia is burning, they have just green lit this fossil fuel abomination, the Adani of the South. Shame on everyone involved,” surf scribe and activist, Sean Doherty posted on Instagram. 

“History will mark you clowns hard. For those of us standing against this plan, those of us standing up for a livable future, this isn’t the end. Tomorrow we’re going in harder. We’ve only just started with these criminals,” he continued.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Australian writer/surfer Fred Pawle celebrated the decision.

“Good news for believers in honest debate, human ingenuity, prosperity and environmental stewardship: one of the most misinformed Australian environmental campaigns of recent years has ended in failure,” he tweeted. 

Wherever you fall in the argument, as Doherty notes, this isn’t the end of Fight For The Bight. There are still two more approvals needed. And there’s still hope. 

Joe Strummer of The Clash famously said, “I’m far more dangerous now, because I don’t care at all.” 

That’s pretty much the stance the surfing and environmental communities have been forced into if they want to reverse course. Backed into a corner now, the Fight For The Bight has gotten to a stage where there’s nothing lose. It’s all or nothing now…”death or glory.”  The protests have to be bigger, louder, more visible.

Paddle outs are great, but this fight needs to be taken to the next level if there’s any hope of stopping big oil.  


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