Protecting the Bight from Big Oil

Protecting the Bight from Big Oil

Together we've done it! Equinor has been forced to back out of the pristine waters of the Great Australian Bight. For our climate, coastal communities & wildlife, we must keep this beautiful area safe.

Norwegian-owned Equinor is the latest company—like BP & Chevron before them—to have given up its attempt to exploit the oil reserves off our southern coastline in the face of community outrage. But we won't stop until this thriving marine sanctuary is protected from the fossil fuel industry for good..

Photo: Rita Kluge

The threat to life

The Great Australian Bight supports an abundance of life. It's a vital nursery for the protected southern right whale, home to endangered sea lions and more than 36 species of dolphins and whales.

Over 85 per cent of the animals and plants found in the Bight are found nowhere else on earth. 

Now, placing this pristine marine wilderness in danger, Equinor has been granted environmental approval to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight by the Australian offshore oil and gas authority NOPSEMA.

Not only would an oil spill here affect wildlife and marine sanctuaries, it could devastate beach communities, fisheries and tourism. And, if tapped and burned, the oil in our Bight would single-handedly blow Australia’s carbon budget—and our liveable climate.

That's why the Wilderness Society has launched a legal challenge against NOPSEMA's decision to grant Equinor environmental approval to drill for oil in the Bight. With your help, we will protect the Great Australian Bight from reckless exploitation.

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Keeping Big Oil out of the Bight

When we first heard of BP's plans for our Bight, we commissioned expert independent spill modelling to reveal to Australians what an oil spill on our shores might look like. It showed the potential for disaster along our coastline, all the way from WA to NSW.

Thanks to the public pressure our campaign has built, BP and Chevron have both pulled out of the Bight. But oil giant Equinor was recently granted environmental approval to start drilling for oil in the Bight. 

Ultra-deepwater oil drilling is a high-risk operation that caused the world’s biggest oil spill accident, the Deepwater Horizon tragedy in 2010, when 800 million litres of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days. Equinor’s drilling operations aren’t as safe as it would like to make out. Just a month after the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, only luck saved Equinor-Statoil from a major disaster at its Gullfaks C platform in the North Sea. The Great Australian Bight waters are deeper, more treacherous and more remote than the Gulf of Mexico or the North Sea.

Here's what independent scientific modelling shows an oil spill in the Bight could look like.
"17 local councils have passed motions raising serious concerns and opposition to Equinor's drilling plans. Community protest is widespread; it is consistent, determined and it is becoming global." – Campaigner Jess Lerch
Photo: Darren Longbottom
Photo: Darren Longbottom

A groundswell of opposition

From the beaches of Australia to the harbours of Norway, we've now taken the #FightForTheBight right to Equinor's doorstep. In May, the Wilderness Society formed part of a delegation to tell the Norwegian Government and other shareholders that Australians won't stand for oil drilling in our pristine southern seas.

Despite seeing over 10,000 people protest against its drilling plans in Australia and hundreds in Oslo, Equinor has so far refused to withdraw its plans to drill in the Great Australian Bight. UPDATE: On Feb 25 Equinor withdrew it's plans thanks to the hard work of everyone who has worked with us on this.

Everyone from billionaire Sir Richard Branson to surfing world champions Stephanie Gilmore, Layne Beachley and Mick Fanning are opposed to drilling in the Bight.

Quite simply, there’s no social licence for Equinor or any other company to drill for oil in the Bight.

Our vision

The world already has more oil than it can afford to burn. It’s the wrong time in history to begin dangerous deepwater drilling in this pristine marine ecosystem.

Our oceans don’t just provide food. They work to recycle nitrogen, carbon and water — the building blocks of life. Most of the air we breathe is produced in our oceans. By supporting life in the Bight, we’re helping ourselves.

We’ll challenge every single drilling application. We’ll commission more independent research. And we’ll make sure Australia’s regulatory body pulls its weight.

Our fight for the Bight won’t be over until the permits are cancelled and this thriving marine sanctuary is finally protected from the fossil fuel industry.

What we’re doing:

  • Challenging deepwater drilling permits.
  • Countering fossil fuel industry spin in the media.
  • Publishing independent modelling and research.
  • Helping to fix the regulatory process.
  • Supporting the communities standing up to Big Oil in SA and beyond.
  • Standing up for intact marine ecosystems and the jobs they provide.
  • Championing a swift transition to clean, renewable energy.