With the Fight For The Bight intensifying, Jack’s here to explain why drilling for oil in the pristine waters south of Australia is a deadset reckless idea. He explains how you can do your bit to help kick energy companies out of the Great Australian Bight, and protect our Aussie coastline.


By now I’m hoping you’ve heard about the fight that’s going on at the bottom of Australia between the locals and Norwegians.

It’s about turning the bottom of Australia into an oil field with the potential to ruin our pristine southern coastline.

An energy company called Equinor – part-owned by the Norweigan Government – intend to drill for oil in the rough seas of the Great Australian Bight next year. It’s resulted in Patagonia’s paddle-out protests across the coast; our Federal Resources Minister fumbling through a radio interview; and over 15,000 comments on Equinor’s Instagram telling them where to stick their drilling rig.

No way Norway! A floating paddle out protest in Torquay. – Photo by Ed Sloane with thanks to Patagonia

So What Happens If (When) There’s A Spill?

Equinor claim they can drill safely, yet they’ve drawn up what an oil spill could look like. It’s grim. It shows beaches from the East Coast’s Port Macquarie to Western Australia’s Margaret River awash with oil. That’s almost half of Australia’s coastline, and it’s the part that you can actually swim in.

Equinor, fight for the bight, spill modelling and drill location

Equinor’s proposed well location and spill modeling after running 100 simulations, as outlined in their Environmental Plan.

Even a minor spill would have an irreversible impact on the Bight. The marine wilderness is home to more unique species than the Great Barrier Reef and 85% of what’s down there isn’t found anywhere else in the world.

If you’ve ever wanted to drive across the Nullarbor, explore the Eyre Peninsula, road trip the Great Ocean Road, delve into the Wilderness of Tasmania, or tackle the trails in Kangaroo Island they’re going to be a lot less appealing if they’re completely doused in oil.

The safest way to avoid a spill? Not drill at all.

Why Has Other Big Oil Pulled Out?

Since 2011 the Australian Government have handed out permits for oil companies to see if it’s worthwhile drilling. BP and Chevron have already decided it wasn’t, but Equinor has taken over, and to abide by the permit they plan to drill an exploratory well to see what’s what. In water 2km deep they’re going to drill another 2km into the seabed of one of the roughest oceans in the world, 370km off the South Coast of Australia.

Eyre Peninsula, Photo by Jack Brookes, Great Australian Bight, Elliston, Fight for the Bight, Big Oil Don't Surf, This is not a drill, South Australia

Looking out over the Great Australian Bight from the Eyre Peninsula – Photo by Jack Brookes

In 2010 Deepwater Horizon was the most catastrophic oil disaster in history. It too was an exploratory well, except BP lost control of it in the Gulf of Mexico and despite being in one of the most established oil fields in the world, it was 87 days before it was plugged. Over 779 million litres of oil were pumped into the ocean, it cost the Gulf Coast Tourist industry 23 billion US dollars in lost revenue and resulted in 12,000 jobs being lost in New Orleans.  

But We Still Need Oil, Right?

Like you reading this, I drive a car, have jumped in an aeroplane and use items made of plastic. However, I’m hoping that sooner-than-later we won’t require oil for these. Only through resistance to the big energy companies can we lead the way in creating renewable systems that allow us humans to stay here on Earth a little longer.

The majority of the world’s governments decided that something should be done with the Paris Climate Agreement. The gist was to make sure the planet doesn’t warm by 2 degrees celsius and simply put: if we burned all proven reserves of fossil fuels we’d exceed this astronomically. Exploring new oil reserves doesn’t help.

Victor-Harbour_Photocredit_-Che-Chorley, fight for the bight, patagonia

A paddle out protest at Victor Harbour – Photo by Che Chorley with thanks to Patagonia

How To Stop Equinor From Risking Our Oceans For Profit

Equinor have submitted their environmental plan to NOPSEMA – Australia’s independent regulator – and it’s open for public comment on their website until the 20th of March – Next Wednesday. NOPSEMA will assess the public comments and then hand them over to Equinor, who’ll have to report back on how they’ve taken them into account.

The first few questions address the 1500 page environmental plan, it’s a heavy read. The Great Australian Bight Alliance say the last question on the form – “Do you have any other comments?” – is the most crucial. They’ve helped with some tips below, but in order to have the most impact they recommend putting it in your own words.

– Relate your comment to why opposing drilling in the Bight is important to you – why does it affect you personally?

– You might like to explain why this irreplaceable marine wonderland is important to you. Maybe you love surfing or going to the beach with your kids? Maybe you dream of driving along the Nullabor someday?

– The Great Australian Bight is a unique, pristine marine wilderness. It’s a safe haven for 36 species of whales and dolphins, and is the most important southern right whale nursery in the world.

– You could explain how drilling in the Bight will only make the climate crisis worse.

– You could mention that you’re worried about industries that rely on these pristine waters, like tourism and the fisheries.

– Make sure your comment is original and from your heart – don’t copy and paste the whole thing!

 

Make Your Comment Now

 

If you want to keep up to date or find out more check out the Great Australian Bight Alliance, Patagonia’s social updates and Big Oil Don’t Surf campaign or head to Sean Doherty’s – Australian Surf Journalist – Instagram page where he’s been leading the charge and calling out anyone who could impact the decision.

 


Feature photo by Ed Sloane thanks to Patagonia