We like the Bight just as it is

We like the Bight just as it is

We like the Bight just as it is – great | first published Port Lincoln Times July 2018

Last week elected members of Port Lincoln City Council met a delegation of Equinor oil and gas company Vice Presidents from Norway and London.  Their goal was to assess how our community are feeling about their plan to drill an exploratory oil well in the Great Australian Bight.

The Mayor, CEO and four councillors attended.  We shared polite conversation about their plan, experience and earnest assurances.  Equinor are seeking light sweet crude oil, arguably how some like their wine.  If their Environment Plan is approved and they find oil, the GAB will become a new frontier for oil explorers from across the planet substantially increasing our exposure to risk.

Sticking point is, we like the Great Australian Bight just as it is, GREAT.  Full of abundant species of mammals and marine life, some 84 discovered to date unique to this marine environment.  Equinor were called Statoil, but have rebranded, as their investment in the transition to renewable energy grows. I assured them the preferred topic of conversation is investment in renewables in our region, rather than drilling for oil in our ocean front-yard.  

Oystein Michelson, the Vice President of Development and Production International, responsible for Safety and Security explained that social licence to operate was key to progressing the project.  That if “we are not wanted here, we will not push through resistance”.  

I shared the news about a 600 strong signature petition tabled at Council, that the Port Lincoln Times poll had an 87% NO vote. I explained I hear most of industry and community saying the risk is too great. Industry and community are asking why we would put thousands of local sustained jobs and cornerstone enterprises at risk for the prospect of a few jobs and some oil for export? 

Lisa Rebora Vice President of Exploration assured us that one of Equinor’s key values is openness.  I handed her letters Council were sent by local fishing, tourism and aquaculture leaders for some plane (plain) reading.  I am standing with local industry and community on this issue because this is a line in the sand.