NOPSEMA has requested further information from Equinor on its environment plan for their proposed petroleum exploration drilling activity in the Great Australian Bight.
The assessment has now paused and will begin again when Equinor submits the additional information, having been provided 60 days to do so, the regulator said.
NOPSEMA said the request for information was made in order to clarify matters raised in the plan and to address information gaps identified by NOPSEMA’s specialist team assessing the plan.
“Under Australia’s objective-based regulatory regime, a request for further information is a normal step in the assessment process,” NOPSEMA added.
“To ensure a fair and unbiased process and to provide natural justice to all parties, NOPSEMA does not comment on the specifics of environment plans under assessment.”
In April Equinor presented to NOPSEMA an environmental plan for its proposed drilling in the Bight, where environmental lobby groups have been campaigning against the exploration initiative.
Equinor is the sole titleholder of exploration permit EPP39, located in the Ceduna Sub-basin in Commonwealth waters off southern Australia. As part of the permit commitment, Equinor plans to drill the Stromlo-1 exploration well, located approximately 400 km southwest of Ceduna and 476 km west of Port Lincoln in a water depths of approximately 2,240 meters.
Equinor plans to spud the Stromlo-1 exploration well in late 2020 with drilling expected to take approximately 60 days.