Equinor talks Bight drilling at community sessions

Communities had the opportunity to voice opinions and concerns of Equinor's Great Australian Bight oil exploration program at community drop-in sessions last week.

Equinor hosted sessions at Ceduna and Streaky Bay - along with Kangaroo Island and Port Lincoln - where company representatives and experts in fields such as marine life, engineering, drilling and safety were present to answer questions about the program.

Equinor currently has a draft environment plan (EP) out for public comment, before its final version is submitted to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).

About 50 people were present at the Ceduna session on Wednesday, with 40 people at Streaky Bay the following day.

Equinor Australia's senior project advisor Terry Visser said the experts were able to answer a range of questions people had.

"People were interested to hear more about how we are able to drill safely, our preparedness for any incidents, and our plans to protect marine life - we also discussed the potential community and business benefits in the event we make an oil discovery," he said.

"We heard from a lot of people and we spent time answering questions and explaining different sections in our EP.

"We understand there are a range of views in the community and that some people are opposed to the project [and] we are hopeful that people walked away with more information about our plans."

Mr Visser said Equinor would continue its engagement with communities throughout the assessment process.

One of the experts present was Phillip Starkins from the Australian Marine Oil Spill Centre, who said it was a good chance to open discussion.

"People were curious about spills and the techniques used if it were to occur, and people appreciated having discussion," he said.

"We would be on the scene to help out, in the event of an oil spill."

Equinor's Audun Sande talked about emergency response techniques.

"It was a very interesting talk, we had all types of questions to do with emergency response," he said.

"Some were surprised that the fastest [oil] could reach the shore is 21 days, others had questions about what we are doing, why, how, and getting more information."

Drill protester Trina Spitzkowsky attended at Ceduna and said her fears were not entirely allayed by the session.

"Some information was reasonable, some sugar coated in talking about transparency," she said.

"Jurgen [Weissenberger, marine biologist] was upfront, and while I don't think it was all transparent it was good that people were here to chat.

"Our moral and ethical concerns were not addressed, but it was good to get information."

She said giving people only one week's notice about the meetings did not allow enough time to prepare questions, while she said the Streaky Bay meeting should have been at a different time.

"People work, it's hard to go to a meeting in the morning," Ms Spitzkowsky said.

"There should also have been meetings with other coastal communities, not just the four."

Breony Carbines agreed there should have been more notice about the meeting.

"I think there could have been more people here if there had been more notice."

Kylie Stra and Josie Rohl were present at the Ceduna session and Ms Stra felt not all questions were answered.

"Equinor were quoted as saying they would not push through [community] resistance, but when questioned said they were not aware," she said.

"We've been protesting this issue for at least three years and feel there is strong resistance, but they didn't answer questions and tried to turn them around."

Most Ceduna councillors also had a chance to speak with the experts present, while Member for Flinders Peter Treloar did the same.

"It is good that Equinor are here and are prepared to present in public, it is an excellent opportunity to understand the plans and processes," Mr Treloar said.

"There is a process in place and we have to ensure it is as good as it can be."

The draft plan remains open for public comment with NOPSEMA until March 20.