INTERNATIONAL energy company, Equinor, has released its draft Environment Plan (EP) for the proposed Stromlo-1 exploration drilling programme in permit EPP-39 in the Great Australian Bight for public comment.

The development of the EP is a key step in the offshore exploration regulatory process. It details Equinor’s planned activity and all the measures to be put in place to avoid and mitigate impacts on the environment.  The EP concludes drilling can be done safely.

This is the first time a draft EP for an offshore exploration well has been published before submission and assessment by the regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).

“Over the last two years we have engaged with more than 100 different organisations in the South Australian community and they have consistently asked us to be open about our plans. We have listened, and today we are releasing the complete draft EP for our offshore exploration well,” said Jone Stangeland, Equinor country manager for Australia.

For a period of 30 days, public comments to the draft EP can be submitted directly to the regulator, NOPSEMA.

“We have made the draft EP available to members of the community and we will take all comments into consideration before updating our EP and submitting it to the independent regulator.

“This draft EP is the result of more than two years of careful preparation and our 1500-page plan demonstrates how we can drill safely and includes a robust emergency response plan.

“The EP documents the existing environment in the Great Australian Bight and describes all relevant risks, however unlikely. By identifying every possible risk, we can better prepare for safe operations,” Mr Stangeland said.

In June 2017, Equinor became the operator and 100 per cent equity owner of offshore exploration permits EPP 39 and 40 located in the Great Australian Bight. The Stromlo-1 well location is situated 372 km off the coast of South Australia and 476 km west of Port Lincoln.

Once all regulatory approvals are in place, Equinor plans to start drilling in the summer of 2020/2021. If oil or gas is discovered, it could provide a unique opportunity for jobs and economic growth in South Australia.

A link to the EP can be found here. Members of the public can submit comments to NOPSEMA here.