In late April, the University’s Sydney Environment Institute convened a group of experts from academia and industry to consider key issues around drilling in the Bight.
Based on this, these experts have made a pro-bono submission to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).
NOPSEMA is currently assessing Equinor’s Environmental Plan submission to ensure it meets all legislative requirements to proceed.
However, in the submission, the experts call on NOPSEMA to go one step further and hold Equinor to international best-practice standards.
The submission was co-authored by University of Sydney energy and natural resources law expert Dr Madeline Taylor, with Emeritus Professor Andrew Hopkins (Australian National University), Greg Bourne (Australian Climate Council Council and former President of BP Australia), and Professor Tina Soliman-Hunter (Aberdeen University Centre for Energy Law).
In the submission, the experts say that Equinor’s “overconfidence” in its ability to prevent a major spill could lead to catastrophic environmental impacts.
“Throughout the environmental plan, Equinor has consistently made optimistic choices in order to convince the public and NOPSEMA that ‘it is safe’ to drill,” they write.
“However, we saw a similar style of overconfidence demonstrated in BP’s proposal to drill in the Gulf of Mexico, which led to one of the world’s biggest oil spills in 2010.
“History has shown us that overconfidence precedes catastrophic failure in many spheres of engineering endeavour. No matter how many layers of defence there are between a hazard and an accident, accidents can and still do happen.”
Recommendations from the submission include that NOPSEMA: