Karoon relinquishes Great Australian Bight permit

PERMITS: Karoon Gas is relinquishing permit EPP46 in the Great Australian Bight. Map courtesey of APPEA
PERMITS: Karoon Gas is relinquishing permit EPP46 in the Great Australian Bight. Map courtesey of APPEA

Karoon Gas has become the third company since 2016 to abandon its plans for oil and gas exploration in the Great Australian Bight after announcing it was relinquishing its permit.

The Melbourne-based company released an ASX announcement on November 29 which said it had begun the process of relinquishing permit EPP46, which it was awarded in October 2016.

Karoon Gas chairman Bruce Phillips said the company "listened to our broader stakeholder groups and have initiated actions to relinquish EPP46 in the Great Australian Bight."

The company is the third to cancel plans for exploration in the Great Australian Bight, following BP in 2016 and Chevron in 2017.

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association external affairs director Matthew Doman said Karoon had announced in its Annual Report in September it would surrender its permits.

"Their decision to withdraw is disappointing but individual companies make their own decisions for their own reasons," he said.

"The oil and gas industry believes there is significant resource potential in the Great Australian Bight, and the development of these resources would bring significant economic and energy benefits to South Australia and the nation as has been the case with the North West Shelf and Bass Strait."

Four companies still hold permits for the Bight; Equinor, Murphy Oil Corporation, Santos and Bight Petroleum.

Equinor resubmitted its Environmental Plan to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority last Friday following a request to modify and resubmit the plan on November 8.

The company is awaiting an update from NOPSEMA on a timeline for a decision.

Mr Doman said the industry's strong focus was on the activity proposed by Equinor, which was awaiting regulatory approval.

"Claims of environmental harm from offshore oil and gas activity are not borne out by decades of safe, sustainable exploration and development in Australian waters, be that in Bass Strait or offshore Western Australia or the Northern Territory," he said.

"There clearly are risks that need to be managed but we have a long and strong track record of doing that."

Greens senator for South Australia Sarah Hanson-Young said she welcomed the news of Karoon Gas relinquishing its permit and called for Equinor to do the same.

"Turning the Bight into an oilfield will never get the green light from the community," she said.

Mr Doman said APPEA had started a website to provide more information about potential oil and gas exploration and people can visit greataustralianbight.com to find out more.