Australia

Norway to gain most if drilling goes ahead in Great Australian Bight, new report says

Cliffs along The Great Australian Bight. Source: Getty Images

Norway would benefit most from any drilling allowed in the Great Australian Bight, the Australia Institute says.

The Norwegian government would make $400 million more than the South Australian and federal governments combined if drilling goes ahead in the Great Australian Bight, according to a think tank.

International energy company Equinor, which is majority-owned by Norway through its sovereign wealth fund, is seeking permission to drill a deepwater oil well about 370km off the South Australian coast.

This means if oil reserve projections for the proposed project are met, Norway could earn $8.1 billion from oil and gas drilling in the Bight over 40 years, the Australian Institute said in a report on Monday.

In comparison, the federal and SA governments would receive $7.4 billion of revenue and $300 million in payroll tax.

"No matter how you cut it, this project just doesn't stack up for Australia," Australia Institute SA director Noah Schultz-Byard said.

"Foreign-owned oil companies are lining up to come into our precious marine environment, put it at risk and then make off with the vast majority of the financial gains."

Protest against Equinor's plans to drill in the Great Australian Bight
People are worried about what oil and gas exploration will do to the Great Australian Bight.
AAP

The report authors Rod Campbell and Tony Shields used economic modelling by consulting firm ACIL Allen and commissioned by the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association to draw their conclusions.

They also warned any Great Australian Bight oil industry would require years of government subsidies.

A decision on the controversial plan to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight is pending.

Equinor submitted an environmental plan to federal regulators in April but the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority has twice delayed a decision and asked for more information.

NOPSEMA is now due to make a ruling on Thursday but it could again be postponed.

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