Regulators continue to probe Bight plan

Equinor's plan to drill in the Great Australian Bight is again examined by federal regulators

Federal regulators have resumed consideration of a plan to drill an oil exploration well in the Great Australian Bight after receiving more information from Norwegian energy company Equinor.

In November, 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 370km off the South Australian coast.

The company submitted its updated plan on Friday and NOPSEMA has now confirmed it is considering the new material.

Its new date for a decision has been set for December 30 but that could again be extended.

"NOPSEMA will continue to assess the environment plan and consider potential environmental impacts from the proposed activity to ensure appropriate precautions are taken," the regulator said in a statement.

"NOPSEMA will only accept the environment plan once it meets the stringent requirements of the law."

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

"Equinor has always expected to work through an iterative process of resubmission before NOPSEMA accepts the environment plan," the company's Australian manager Jone Stangeland said in a statement last month.

"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.

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.