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Published: 31 Oct 2019
Branch Secretary Jamie Newlyn met with Equinor representative on Tuesday, 29 October 2019 for an update on environmental approvals and timeframes for deep well drilling in the Great Australian Bight (GAB). It is well recorded that drilling in the GAB has been met with significant opposition from many quarters including fishing communities, environmental groups, sections of the Labour Movement and of course Student Strikers for Climate. The MUA have many members in the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry and therefore is core business. However as explained to Equinor (and BP before them) the environmental concerns of deep-water drilling need to be examined and endorsed by NOPSEMA before the MUA can unequivocally support such a project that hasn’t been undertaken in Australia before. It was further explained that the MUA have advocated for participation in the project as we take a safety-first approach and will stop production without fear if there is a critical safety or environmental incident. With that in mind, Equinor reported that their latest Environmental Impact Statement is before NOPSEMA and has been circulated for public comment. NOPSEMA are due to announce their decision on 14 November 2019. Should NOPSEMA approve the drilling program Equinor will commence the tender project sometime in the first or second quarter of 2020 with the aim of drilling late 2020 early 2021. It should be noted that the project is for one exploratory well with a project time of 30 - 60 days. Equinor anticipate a semi-submersible drill rig, two construction supply boats and two rig tenders, plus the supply base in Port Adelaide at 25 Berth. Jamie Newlyn indicated that when assessing tenders that Equinor should liaise with the MUA to ensure there is no industrial bargaining conflict with any of the sub-contracted operators.
Interestingly at the end of the 30 - 60-day program the well is capped, and a 12-month process of analysis is undertaken after which a production program will be determined which could take 7-10 years!
Further updates will be provided as things develop.