Norwegian co. to meet Bight oil deadline

Norwegian energy company Equinor is expected to meet a deadline to provide more information to federal regulators in relation to its plans to drill an oil exploration well in the Great Australian Bight.

Earlier this month, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Manager Authority (NOPSEMA) ordered the company to modify and resubmit an environmental plan for its proposed Stromlo-1 well about 370 kilometres off the South Australian coast.

The company was given 21 days to provide the new material and was expected to meet Friday's deadline.

It remains unclear exactly when NOPSEMA will then announce its decision.

Equinor said previously it remained committed to drilling the exploratory well and to meeting all its regulatory requirements.

"Based on the industry's experience, we know NOPSEMA accepts only 10 per cent of plans on first submission," the company's Australian manager Jone Stangeland said in a statement.

"Equinor has always expected to work through an iterative process of resubmission before NOPSEMA accepts the environment plan.

"We continue to engage with stakeholders and local communities regarding details of our plans."

Environmental groups have strongly opposed Equinor's plans which they said posed unacceptable risks to the pristine waters of the Bight and to the Australian coastline.

"The communities of the Bight, traditional owners and the thousands of people in the seafood and tourism industries whose livelihoods depend on healthy oceans will never accept oil drilling in the Bight," Greenpeace campaigner Nathaniel Pelle said.

If approved Equinor expects to begin drilling Stromlo-1 in the summer of 2020/21.

In information released by NOPSEMA, the work is expected to take 60 days using a mobile offshore unit supported by three vessels and helicopters.

Equinor will then evaluate the results before considering whether to proceed with appraisal or further exploration.